'A Dream of John Ball and A King's Lesson' (originally called An Old Story Retold) were published in William Morris's newspaper The Commonweal between 1886-1887. They first appeared in book form in an edition [WMG: K516] published by Reeves & Turner 1888, with an engraved frontispiece by Burne Jones, with a couplet below "When Adam delved and Eve span / Who then was the gentleman?" in upper and lower case lettering designed by Morris. A finished pen and ink drawing by Burne Jones with lettering below by Morris for this frontispiece is in the Gallery's collection, see D75.
Burne Jones re-drew the illustration for the frontispiece to the Kelmscott Press edition of Morris's work, and it was engraved on wood by W.H. Hooper. The lettering, this time in capitals only, was designed by Morris also the framing border. 300 copies were printed on paper at £1 10 and 11 copies on vellum at 10 guineas. This copy on paper was presented by Morris to his friend Aglaia Coronio (1834-1906); embroiderer, bookbinder, art collector and patron of the arts.
The whole design was used again on a leaflet printed at the Kelmscott Press in March 1894 for the Ancoats Brotherhood (see copy in the collection). The design was also printed under the title 'Labour' in the Daily Chronicle 11 February 1895.