Daughter of famed Arts and Crafts movement initiator William Morris, May learned to embroider from her mother and her aunt. In 1881, she enrolled at the National Art Training School, the predecessor of the Royal College of Art, to study embroidery. In 1885, she became the director of the embroidery department in her father’s company, Morris & Co. In 1907, May founded the Women’s Guild of Arts with fellow embroiderer, Mary Elizabeth Turner. May encouraged art needlework, a form of free embroidery, a more self-expressive way to embroider.