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After RuskinThe Social and Political Legacies of a Victorian Prophet, 1870–1920$

Stuart Eagles

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602414.001.0001

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Introduction: ‘a faithful signpost’ 1

Introduction: ‘a faithful signpost’ 1

(p.1) Introduction: ‘a faithful signpost’1
After Ruskin

Stuart Eagles

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Ruskin considered himself ‘a violent Tory of the old school’ yet also a ‘communist’. Difficult to categorize politically, he differed from,almost as much as he shared in, the progressive politics of the generation which followed him which he helped to inspired. Building on existing studies of Ruskin's influence and legacy, this study identifies a wide range of individuals he inspired, and explains their significance in terms of the different institutions and organisations in which they gathered to effect the social, civic and political reforms he inspired, rooting Ruskin's legacy geographically and culturally in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain.

Keywords:   Ruskin, influence, historiography, geography, institutions, organisations, progressive, political economy, social reform, civic reform

In the opening words of the preface to his study, John Ruskin or the Ambiguities of Abundance (1972), James Sherburne wrote:

There is a wide discrepancy between the original intention and final form of this book. My hope had been to outline briefly Ruskin's social and economic criticism and then to focus on the question of Ruskin's influence. As it is, the second problem is hardly mentioned. To paraphrase Coleridge, I remained sunk in Ruskin like a toad in a rock, trying to decide what he has to say on social and economic matters and discovering much that needs to be examined before any study of his strangely refracted influence could be undertaken.2

It is Ruskin's ‘strangely refracted influence’ that forms the subject of this book, specifically the social and political influence of his thinking and practical example. Any attempt to describe Ruskin's legacy in its total, refracted glory, might be subtitled ‘The Ambiguities of Influence’ and it would fill several long volumes. The focus here is on a period of roughly fifty years, between 1870 and 1920. It is confined to Britain, and to a particular category of nevertheless diverse thinkers and activists who helped to forge the broadly progressive political culture of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Britain.

This book argues that the significance of Ruskin's legacy lies in his inspirational call for social action. Less important than the value of his specific proposals was Ruskin's opposition to modern industrial capitalism and the system of thought underpinning it. Following an examination of Ruskin's politics, each chapter considers an example of his widening influence, placing it in its institutional context. Ruskin's influence was felt directly, at least in the 1870s and 1880s, in his utopian organization, the Guild of St George, and at the University of (p.2) Oxford, where he was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art. Less directly, Ruskin's influence was felt in the university settlements, where several significant graduates from his Oxford lectures, gatherings, and digging parties served their apprenticeships as social activists. It was felt, too, among the band of enthusiasts who belonged to, organized, and addressed the Ruskin societies. More broadly, but no less intensely, Ruskin influenced many of the early Labour representatives, on town councils and in Parliament.

The study concludes by considering the exemplary Ruskinian personality, John Howard Whitehouse (1873–1955), in whose early life and career many of the preceding disparate but interconnected institutional expressions of Ruskinian influence converge. These case studies combine to demonstrate how Ruskin's writing and practical example, broadening in its influence over time, helped to feed an increasing political and social engagement which was expressed in new civic societies and institutions, and in emerging Labour politics.

Some groups more or less influenced by Ruskin are deliberately excluded. With the exception, to some extent, of the Guild of St George, members of various back-to-the-land movements, and radical anarchists who sought either to retreat from capitalism or to overthrow it, are not considered.

The argument of this book is that Ruskin's legacy was most significant in its impact and widest in its scope among those civically engaged men and women who, as formal and informal public servants, sought the reform of modern industrial society and political economy. A full understanding of the nature and extent of the reforms that characterize Britain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is impossible without an appreciation of the part played in them by John Ruskin. Ruskin was, whether he would have liked it or not, one of their chief inspirations. The man who stood above or outside the traditions and conventions of any and all established disciplines and institutions nevertheless, and contradictorily, inspired a succeeding generation to take social action.

There is a consistent and widespread awareness of, and sense of indebtedness to, Ruskin's writings among many of the key figures responsible for the social, economic, and cultural reforms of the turn of the century. Ruskin's influence was felt most keenly by many activists in their youth. Such was the interconnectedness of the institutions in which many of them spent their apprenticeships as public servants that Ruskinian ideas were cultivated ever more widely.

(p.3) A series of affinities between these reforming voices and Ruskin's writings have been often enough asserted, but inadequately explored. The attempt here is to piece together the fragmentary evidence from scattered archival, manuscript sources and rarely cited contemporary published accounts, in order to reconstruct Ruskin's intellectual legacy, not merely better to understand Ruskin, but to recuperate a sense of his place in the social and historical developments of the rapidly changing Britain of the period. The attempt is to plot geographically and institutionally the places and networks where Ruskin was feted, admired, and celebrated, and through which his influence was spread, and further, to recreate not only the intellectual world in which Ruskin's disciples operated but also their associational culture.

The period covered by this study is roughly framed by the beginning of Ruskin's career as Slade Professor at Oxford, and as Master of the Guild of St George, on the one hand, and on the other by the centenary celebrations of his birth in 1819. It is no coincidence that the height of Ruskin's reputation came at a time, from the 1870s, when the confidence of many people in Britain's economic stability was undermined by cyclical trade depression and unemployment, increased casualization and de-skilling in the labour market, and growing urbanization stimulated by the depression of rural agriculture partly brought about by the accelerating use of farm machinery. Crucially, even for some economists, such pressures undermined confidence in the orthodox system of political economy underpinning free-market industrial capitalism. Whilst it had not been difficult to ignore Ruskin when his was almost a lone voice in a period of relative abundance, his message gained greater purchase in a period of apparent crisis, and especially for a later generation that on the whole had not been a part of the reaction against Ruskin's writings when they made their first controversial appearance in the 1850s and 1860s.

It was at exactly this turning point in 1870 that Ruskin began lecturing undergraduates at Oxford, addressing monthly letters to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain, and encouraging disciples to join him in his Guild of St George—cultural interventions that afforded Ruskin the opportunity for personal interaction with a wide range of men and some women, a significant number and cross-section of whom were enthusiastic to listen to his message and crucially, to carry it forward. Most of them were motivated by a desire to make a difference to British civic life, and their attempts were often also expressions of homage to the man who had most inspired them.

(p.4) The institutions on which this book focuses were, by and large, most inventive and most active in this period, and their Ruskinian associations were then at their strongest. The contributions of these institutions to British civil society were responses to the social consequences of an economy and a political system struggling to adjust to changing realities. The common factors that combined to diminish the significance of such institutions, and Ruskin's political influence, are considered in the conclusion, but each chapter's case study makes the implicit assertion that the height of Ruskin's reputation was achieved in these years, and especially in the three decades from 1880 to 1910. This is not to deny the fact that Ruskin's influence was felt particularly strongly in the 1940s, during another period of crisis, this time brought about by world war. But among those architects of the wartime and post-war welfare state, Ruskin's influence had been so thoroughly absorbed that its presence was arguably taken for granted. What is more, key participants in post-war reconstruction, such as William Beveridge and Clement Attlee, had learned from and most admired Ruskin as young men in the decades either side of the turn of the century when his influence was most keenly felt.

Modern Scholarship And The Case For Ruskin's Influence

Sir Edward Tyas Cook (1857–1919), one half of the editing partnership that brought the Library Edition of Ruskin's Works (1903–12) to print, was the first Ruskin scholar to stake any serious claim for Ruskin's political influence. He argued that Ruskin was partly responsible for the shifting focus on social rather than purely economic considerations in politics, the diminishing significance in political and economic policy of laissez-faire, and the extension of state interference. As a Liberal, Cook was referring to interference intended to enhance rather than to curtail ‘the scope for self-development’.3 Specifically, he associates fair rents, fixity of tenure, and compensation for home improvements, as well as the (Irish) Land Act of 1881, with Ruskin's arguments in the early numbers of Fors Clavigera (1871–84). Writing in 1911, Cook also identified aspects of the 1909 ‘People's Budget’ with Ruskin.4 (p.5) No attempt has been made here to prove or disprove connections between Ruskin and specific policies, though the perceptions of individual legislators, political activists, and social commentators have been considered as part of a broader survey of the cultural context to the political debate that Ruskin helped to shape.5

Cook was always keen to emphasize the significance of Ruskin's influence, and as such he collected anecdotes from leading figures who acknowledged a debt to Ruskin. In 1887, for example, he noted in his diary a conversation with the imperialist and Radical Liberal, Sir Charles Dilke (1843–1911):

Sir Charles told me the other day that no book—not even Shakespeare, for instance—had influenced him as much as Sesame and Lilies. His wife admired it greatly too, and had written it out for him as a gift when they were married. He had had it bound in vellum and gold and now all that was wanting was for the Master to bless it.6

Specifically, and unsurprisingly, Cook highlighted Ruskin's Liberal legacy. Robert Hewison, in the preface to John Ruskin (2007), wrote that Cook, his predecessor as the author of Ruskin's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ‘sought to reconstruct Ruskin as a political liberal, a forerunner of the social reformers who claimed to be his heirs’.7 Cook once told Ruskin how he was helping to apply Ruskinian principles in the Pall Mall Gazette, a paper that Cook claimed Ruskin believed was ‘the only paper with a conscience’. Ruskin revealingly replied, ‘But you don't apply Carlyle's and my Toryism, I'm afraid.’8

Having contributed to the Pall Mall Gazette under the editorship of John Morley (1838–1923), Cook became assistant editor under W. T. Stead (1849–1912) and edited it himself from 1890 to 1892, when he resigned because the politics of the paper changed under new ownership. He was a committed Liberal, but Ruskin's admonishment (p.6) was not lost on him, and though Hewison's recent ODNB entry specifically and rightly sets out to recover the origins of Ruskin's ‘puritan radicalism’, he acknowledges that ‘it does not change the reality of Ruskin's role as a god-father to the Labour Party and the welfare state’, a point underlined by Hewison's own summary of Ruskin's influence.9

Cook nevertheless made his bold claim for Ruskin intelligently:

Of course, neither in the case of Ruskin's practical suggestions nor in that of his economic theories, are any patent rights, or any exclusive credit to be claimed for him. He himself never made such claims. He was only a disciple, he said, of his ‘master’ Carlyle; he was not a ‘discoverer,’ he was only a learner from Plato and Xenophon. And in an old and complex society, the growth of new ideas and the operation of fresh motive-forces require the combined efforts, from many different directions, of many thinkers and many workers. Before the fruit ripens upon the tree much digging and ditching is necessary; and the procession of time and seasons be fulfilled. ‘Man's fruit of justice ripens slow.’ Law follows public opinion; but who form public opinion? Sometimes, though less often than they suppose, the politicians and the statesmen. To a greater, though to a more latent extent, the thinkers and the writers. Ruskin's books have been among the moving forces; and, whether acknowledged or not, his influence has done a good deal to mould the current ideas and feelings of the time.10

Cook was attempting to make an historical judgement about modern politics, and furthermore, he was doing so as a politically partisan commentator; but for all his lack of temporal and critical distance, the subsequent literature on Ruskin's political significance largely bears him out.

In 1981, Brian Maidment wrote:

It is ironic, though not perhaps surprising in view of the complexity of the subject, that several accounts of the influence of Ruskin's ideas in America and in Europe exist, while there has been no sustained study of his influence on English thought. The interesting feature of R. B. Stein's account of Ruskin's influence in America and of J. Autret's study of Ruskin in France is summed up in the sub-title of a third study by H. R. Hitchcock—‘Regeneration Long Delayed’.11

(p.7) F. D. Curtin was the first critic to attempt anything approaching a sustained study of Ruskin's influence on British thought, in an essay focusing on William Morris, the economist J. A. Hobson (1858–1940), and the sociologist and town-planning pioneer Patrick Geddes (1854–1932).12 Holbrook Jackson's study, Dreamers of Dreams: The Rise and Fall of 19th-Century Idealism (1948), is a largely self-contained study of influence which focuses on the exchange of some parallel ideas shared by Thomas Carlyle, Ruskin, Morris, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman.13 Another post-war study, whose literary emphasis nonetheless also highlighted ‘a common code of practical ethics’, is Graham Hough's The Last Romantics: Ruskin to Yeats (1949), in which Hough recalled that, ‘During the war, most of which I spent as a prisoner of the Japanese, I was fortunate enough to have with me a copy of Yeats's poems’, and he later ‘became interested in the genesis of Yeats's ideas’: ideas that he traced back through the fin de siècle writers and artists, through Walter Pater, Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the Pre-Raphaelites, until he was, ‘inevitably led back to Ruskin. At this point I came to a stop.’14

John Rosenberg was among the first modern scholars to help revive Ruskin's reputation. He recognized that whilst the pre-war admirers of Ruskin had been insufficiently critical and had essentially made their hero in their own image, it was nevertheless right to make a claim for Ruskin's significance in the years around the turn of the century in particular:

Ruskin's early critics were for the most part pious eulogists who portrayed him as far tidier and less vital than he is. Between the world wars everything Victorian was so patently repugnant that it was an easy leap to equate the platitudes of the disciples with the perceptions of the master, and to reject them both. At the time of Ruskin's death, few men would have doubted the justice of Tolstoy's praise; until recently few would have believed it: ‘Ruskin was one of (p.8) the most remarkable men, not only of England and our time, but of all countries and all times. He was one of those rare men who think with their hearts, and so he thought and said not only what he himself had seen and felt, but what everyone will think and say in the future.’15

Yet, even by 1999, Dinah Birch rightly noted that ‘Some of the channels through which Ruskin's thought flowed have scarcely been mapped. Among the most significant has been the impact of his work on twentieth-century social reform.’16 As recently as 2007, Gill Cockram remarked, ‘The charge that Ruskin's influence has been seriously underestimated remains intact.’17

In the past decade greater attention has nevertheless been focused on the nature and extent of Ruskin's influence, a trend that is symptomatic of a fashion more broadly in literary and historical research. One recent contribution to the historiography of discipleship is Michael Robertson's Worshipping Walt (2008), a study of ‘nine of the principal disciples’ of Ruskin's contemporary, the American ‘poet-prophet’ Walt Whitman, who himself, not always admiring of Ruskin, nevertheless admitted to his ‘manly, clear-hearted style’.18 It provides an interesting illustration of the connectedness, and occasional fecklessness, of discipleship. One of Whitman's nine disciples was James William Wallace (1853–1926), an architect's assistant who led the studies of a group of Whitmanites that met at Wallace's Eagle Street home in Bolton, Lancashire. Wallace, who was profoundly affected by the death of his mother in 1885, sought spiritual inspiration and became a dedicated follower of Whitman in 1887, after writing a letter of homage to his hero, and receiving an encouraging reply. Robertson notes, however, that a year earlier, Wallace had addressed a similar testimonial to Ruskin who, being in no position to respond as a consequence of failing health, did not do so, thus discouraging Wallace and causing him to ‘shift…his attention elsewhere’.19

(p.9) This study seeks to build on, rather than to repeat, the work of other scholars of Ruskin's influence, but a brief survey of the most significant contributions to the literature on different aspects of Ruskin's social and political legacy is both a necessary and a helpful starting point.

P. D. Anthony's foundational study of Ruskin's social theory was the earliest, most significant attempt not only to codify Ruskin's ideas but also to assess his legacy.20 He wrote:

Tolstoy, Morris, Shaw, Tawney, Proust, Gandhi and a host of figures of more ordinary standing demonstrated or acknowledged their debt. For socialists, once, Ruskin, [sic] had become a part of the sacred writing, not always understood but to be regarded with reverence.21

Anthony demonstrated that Ruskin exercised a direct influence on the social credit movement, distributism, and guild socialism, as well as the Independent Labour Party, and especially the theorists R. H. Tawney (1880–1962) and G. D. H. Cole (1889–1959), though he acknowledged that, for Cole in particular, Ruskin's message was mediated by William Morris. He concluded that ‘in a living tradition which attempts to explain man's productive life in the world…[Ruskin's] continuing relevance is assured’.22

Dinah Birch's Ruskin and the Dawn of the Modern (1999) contains the two most important recent contributions to the understanding of Ruskin's political legacy. Jose Harris provides a wide-ranging survey of Ruskin's impact on twentieth-century social reform, and the development of social provision and the public-service ethic.23 She details the nature and degree of indebtedness to Ruskin felt by key figures in the civil service such as Hubert Llewellyn Smith (1864–1945) and William Beveridge (1879–1963), John Brown Paton (1830–1911) and his son John Lewis Paton (1863–1946), educationists and founders of the British Institute of Social Service, and a range of other individuals responsible for helping to work out the social-policy initiatives of the early twentieth century. ‘Ruskin's social writings were less a blueprint for action,’ Harris writes, ‘than simply a form of personal inspiration and moral enlightenment…they opened people's eyes to a new way of looking at society, but did not necessarily give detailed instruction on (p.10) how things should be done’.24 For Harris, Ruskin's legacy is as an awakener and an inspiration.

Lawrence Goldman's study of Ruskin and the Labour movement argues that a pivotal mediating role was played in this relationship by the university extension movement.25 He demonstrates that some of its key supporters and lecturers, including (George) William Hudson Shaw (1859–1944), Michael Sadler (1861–1943), and J. A. Hobson played a part in disseminating Ruskinian ideas to an important group of intelligent working men who were developing a political consciousness ‘crucial to the development of a separate Labour interest’.26 He concludes that Ruskin was a ‘prophetic figure’ among the founding fathers of organized Labour, and argues, like Harris, that it was as an inspiration, rather than as a contributor of specific policy solutions, that he was most significant.27

The only book-length study of Ruskin's political influence is Gill Cockram's Ruskin and Social Reform (2007). Cockram's study shows how, in the latter half of the nineteenth century, the reception of Ruskin's social criticism in Britain was transformed from almost universal hostility into enthusiastic assimilation by some key thinkers, most notably the positivist Frederic Harrison (1831–1923), the economist J. A. Hobson, and the turn-of-the-century British socialists. She argues that Ruskin's emphasis on moral reconstruction helped to promote ideas of collectivism. Acknowledging Ruskin's resistance to political categorization, Cockram nevertheless presents Ruskin as part of a broadly Owenite tradition which includes both mid-Victorian Christian socialism and the late nineteenth-century socialist revival, to which Ruskin added an ‘extra spiritual dimension’.28 She concludes, ‘Ruskin's undoubted influence and latent popularity lay in the fact that he achieved what Marx and other critics of capitalism neglected: Ruskin successfully injected humanitarian, Christian-based ethics into a close analysis of economic malpractice. This led to misunderstandings but also to a lasting legacy.’29

(p.11) What all of these studies share in common is a mutual focus on individuals and groups working either alone or in different institutional contexts, who have been influenced in their work and thinking by Ruskin at a formative period in their lives. There is a shared sense of Ruskin as an energizer, an inspiration, a man who, thinking outside the conventions of his own time, helped to point out some of the directions in which ideas could and should be developed. Ruskin's ideas were suggestive, a fertile breeding-ground for some of the key social, economic, and political innovations made by a later generation. This book does not seek to challenge these studies, but to explore further the interconnectedness of these and other aspects of Ruskin's influence.

Ruskin and Bradford (1986), Malcolm Hardman's study of the significance for Ruskin of one of the foremost mid-Victorian towns, and of Ruskin's impact on it, is presented in broad cultural terms. In its exploration of Bradford's political context, it is an exemplary study of the interplay between local and national politics, and it provides a sense of place, a way of locating Ruskin's rootedness in the civic life of a local community, which adds an extra ingredient to the other studies of personality and policy. In this sense, and as a sustained piece of work, it is unique, and it is both surprising and regrettable that no equivalent study exists for Manchester and other cities and towns.30 Hardman, particularly in his final chapter, illustrates how Ruskin influenced some key local figures who gained national significance, among them the socialist campaigner for child health and welfare, Margaret McMillan (1860–1931), the Labour MP and cabinet minister, Frederick Jowett (1864–1944), and even John Henry Whitley (1866–1935), who spoke about Ruskin elegiacally in 1900, and would go on to become Liberal MP for Halifax, Speaker of the House of Commons, and Chairman of the BBC.

Hardman also roots out the less well-known figures, in particular men and women working in local branches of the Independent Labour Party and new Liberal political representatives in the area. For example, he locates Ruskin's influence in business among members of the local Quaker and socialist Priestman family. Ruskin ‘unlocked for thousands such monuments of culture as Plato, the Bible, Dante: and revealed that they were granaries’.31 This was the key to what Hardman calls, echoing and (p.12) anticipating other commentators on the subject, ‘Ruskin's enabling and challenging influence’.32

Two recent and as yet unpublished doctoral theses have also added much to our understanding of Ruskin's legacy. Sara E. Atwood's analysis of Ruskin's educational philosophy dedicates its final chapter to an analysis of his legacy, concluding that his relevance continues to be felt today.33 Gillian Mawby's detailed study of the impact of Ruskin's death throws fresh light on the background to the many memorials composed and erected for him, and brings together for the first time all known extant letters and telegrams of condolence received by Ruskin's cousin, Joan Severn, revealing a snapshot of the breadth and nature of Ruskin's influence at the turn of the century.34

Some figures continually recur in the published narratives of Ruskin's influence, such as William Morris, J. A. Hobson, Frederic Harrison, and Patrick Geddes. P. D. Anthony, Michael H. Lang, and Gill Cockram, for instance, have made a particular connection between Ruskin and guild socialism, analyses that crucially rely on Morris as a mediating figure.35 The Labour historian, Henry Pelling, recognized the same link:

[Morris] believed that the immediate role of the Socialist was to educate people for the great inevitable change which would bring back the simpler, sounder society of medieval times, when craftsmen took pride in their work and when there was no capitalist exploitation or industrial ugliness. In this there is clear evidence of Ruskin's influence, shaping a criticism of contemporary society that was to form the basis of Syndicalism and Guild Socialism in the twentieth century.36

Morris's significance in the story of Ruskin's influence is now well established, and the decision not to include him in this study is not to marginalize him, but is rather intended to avoid repeating the (p.13) scholarship of others and to leave space for the consideration of less well-known material.37 This study engages with these better-known, more deeply understood, and more comprehensively documented examples of Ruskin's influence when the context dictates, for example when their contact with the institutions and other individuals on which and on whom the book does focus, becomes significant, often in a way not previously acknowledged in the existing literature as, for example, when such figures discuss their ideas in the context of a Ruskin society meeting.

There is a range of other studies that have briefly considered Ruskin's political legacy as part of a wider focus, most notably Francis O'Gorman's work on Ruskin, science, and education, as well as his short survey of Ruskin's connections with Manchester, Brian Maidment's explorations of Ruskin, readership, and discipleship, Alan Lee's analysis of Ruskin's impact on economics as a discipline, and a chapter on Ruskin's influence on the economist William Smart (1853–1915) in Willie Henderson's study, John Ruskin's Political Economy (2000).38

There are also related studies, such as that of Ruskin's influence on the garden-city movement, of which Michael H. Lang's book-length contribution is the most complete.39 Recommending Ruskin to modern urban planners, Lang shows the significance of Ruskin's teaching in the thinking of, among others, Patrick Geddes, Ebenezer Howard (1850–1928), Lewis Mumford (1895–1990), Raymond Unwin (1863–1940), Barry Parker (1867–1947), and William Lethaby (1857–1931). In many ways, perhaps the most powerful evidence of Ruskin's influence comes from the pages of broader surveys of readership where his presence is not sought out, but nevertheless emerges strongly, such as in recent studies by Jonathan Rose and Phillip Waller.40

(p.14) Notes of caution have been sounded by scholars about applying Ruskin anachronistically to modern thought. Toni Cerutti's Ruskin and the Twentieth Century (2000) and Giovanni Cianci and Peter Nicholls's (eds.) Ruskin and Modernism (2001) both chart the antagonistic relationship between Ruskin, as a maverick Victorian, and modernism.41 Their focus is not political, and it is paradoxical that the literary and aesthetic movements on which these authors concentrate appear to have found Ruskin more difficult to assimilate than social and political thinkers did. That same perception of the monumental authority that the literary and aesthetic modernists largely rejected in Ruskin, appears rather to have attracted the emerging social consciousnesses of a newly engaged graduate class, and the autodidact leaders of the Labour movement, at least in the decades immediately before and after the turn of the century. Before Ruskin was critically reclaimed in studies by John Rosenberg, Van Akin Burd, and Robert Hewison, among others, in the 1960s and 1970s, that earlier generation of thinkers had applied their own understanding of Ruskin to the problems of their own day, undaunted either by Ruskin's eminence or the vintage of his arguments.42

What a summary of the research highlights is that Ruskin's influence is unusually widespread. Keith Hanley has pointed out Ruskin's influence on:

English design and craft through Morris, on conservation and preservation through the National Trust, on French Impressionism through Monet, on the modern novel through Proust, on Catholic social teaching through Leo XIII's encyclical Rerum Novarum, and on modernist architecture, through Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius.43

Hanley gives a powerful sense of the way in which Ruskin's influence is mediated by others to influence wider movements in their turn. He goes on:

(p.15) [Ruskin's] radical critique of capitalist industrial civilisation provided an affinity for those who were in process of rejecting the effective values of western society in his time and since, so that there has been in his case a far-flung diaspora of Ruskinian continuities, involving processes of ‘hybridisation’ or ‘creolisation’, of combining and mixing cultural constructions, from metropolitan centre and periphery, to produce quite new social and cultural phenomena.44

What Hanley terms ‘this “alternative” Ruskin’ has influenced G. K. Chesterton, Eric Gill, Hilaire Belloc, Ryuzo Mikimoto, Leo Tolstoy, and Mahatma Gandhi.45 Ruskin had an international reach, and one might easily add to this list, among others, the Bloomsbury artist and art critic Roger Fry (1866–1934), the anarchist poet and art critic Herbert Read (1893–1968), the American architect Louis Sullivan (1856–1924), the Belgian painter, architect, and interior designer Henry Van de Velde (1863–1957), and the German art historian Wilhelm Worringer (1881–1965). Crucially, Hanley signals the degree of caution with which all scholars must necessarily approach questions of intellectual influence, and distinguishes a number of indirect channellings of Ruskin-inspired thought from any direct influence. Fred Inglis, in writing about the philosopher Robin Collingwood (1889–1943), the son of Ruskin's secretary and biographer, put it neatly, writing that Ruskin was:

one grand, implicit presence behind all of Collingwood's thought, present less in the conventional sense of an ‘influence’ than as paragon of a characteristically English character, for all his oddities and craziness, a mightily capacious man, responding to life, to science and art, with his whole being.46

In Rosenberg's words, the growing list ‘only heighten[s] one's perplexity that a single mind could so decisively influence such diverse men’.47

The current study tends to emphasize the influence of Ruskin on men partly because it focuses on public life in which women, at this time, played only a limited part. Further study of Ruskin's influence on women is essential, but it is clear that at least some women were moved to take social action after reading him. One example is the social reformer and public servant Violet Markham (1872–1959), who recalls (p.16) how Ruskin helped to inspire her to found the Chesterfield Settlement in 1902.48 Her case is not typical, and relatively few women emerge in the institutional contexts studied here. There is much greater evidence, however, that Ruskin was read and appreciated by women in literary terms, with women editing and summarizing his work for publication, and writing some notable biographical studies.49

No Mere ‘Ruskinians’: Ruskin And Discipleship

This study of Ruskin's legacy focuses on how his inspirational call for social action combined with his ideas and example to encourage reformers to find their own responses to the changing social, economic, and political realities they faced. It is more than merely a history of intellectual affinities, because it demonstrates a conscious assimilation of Ruskin, and details a particular, self-conscious, and specific sense of indebtedness owed to him by key individuals. That is not to disguise differences between such individuals but, crucially, the degree of Ruskin's influence emerges most clearly in the context of the institutions that offered individuals a point of exchange and interaction. The attempt is to immerse oneself in the ways people read Ruskin and reacted to his words and actions, engaging with their passion for him in order that the insights and assumptions of the past might resurface.

The fact that this book deliberately focuses on those who are keenly conscious of their debt to Ruskin effectively dismisses the only contribution to the theory of influence, namely Harold Bloom's literary theory of the ‘anxiety of influence’ in which it is held that only the greatest poets are able to achieve originality because only they can resist the influence of precursor poets and avoid the charge of derivation, a process that necessarily causes living poets anxiety.50 There is no (p.17) evidence to suggest that civic and social reformers felt the same pressure, in reference to Ruskin or anyone else, though it can scarcely be doubted that their conscious indebtedness to Ruskin helped to shape the framework within which they thought and worked. Ruskin provided the foundations on which they chose to build.

Lawrence Goldman carefully writes of his own work:

The claim is not that this [paper] can account by itself for the growing interest in Ruskin, for the process of influence is much more complex, but that it adds to our understanding of the place of Ruskin in the thought and affections of both intellectuals and workers, and explains how Ruskin became a point of contact between these groups.51

Neither does this study claim to detail the mechanics of Ruskin's wider intellectual influence, and nor does it seek to close off the rich vein of research that remains to be mined.

It is tempting, in searching for influence, to find the shadow of your subject lurking in every doorway. It has even been suggested, for example, that there is ‘evidence that the influence of Ruskin leaked down abundantly to those who had not read him’.52 The suggestion is Paul Fussell's, who cites no lesser authorities than Max Plowman and Evelyn Waugh to assert that Ruskin's chapters on skies in Modern Painters (1843–1860) helped to shape the perceptions of landscape of First World War British soldiers from C. S. Lewis to S. S. Horley, the latter of whom, but for the preservation of his diary and pocket-notebook in the Imperial War Museum, might otherwise have remained anonymous.53 The poet and historian Laurence Binyon (1869–1943), writing an appreciation of Ruskin on the occasion of the centenary of his birth, commented that ‘Ruskin is one of those whose spirit lives beyond their books and works in the minds of men who never read them and perhaps never heard of him.’54 He went on: ‘Who shall measure the influence of [Ruskin's] burning, tender, indignant and deep-seeing spirit?’55

(p.18) The current study, which seeks to address such a challenge, has sought out altogether more tangible examples of influence than Fussell's. It seeks to locate, with an illustrative range of widely dispersed and under-used sources, the places and contexts in which Ruskin's social and political influence was felt most strongly and to provide an explanation for it.

There is not one Ruskin only, and the man is not always obviously consistent within a single text, let alone between texts separated by genre, subject, style, intended audience, and by decades of experience, changing circumstances, and long periods of contemplation. Any study of Ruskin's influence must, to be useful, give an account of Ruskin's ideas first, mindful of his complexity and multiplicity, before detailing the responses of others to his written and spoken utterances, and his practical example. It is important not to iron out the creases when re-presenting his ideas, and to acknowledge that those ideas developed over time. Ruskin's apparent contradictoriness is the inevitable consequence of a long life. Life, the only true wealth in Ruskin's terms, is full of inconsistencies, conflicts, and unevennesses.

Studying influence always runs the risk of suggesting a certain progression, linearity, or logic of ideas which tends to deny historical development. The purpose is to highlight the intellectual debt owed by one generation to another. Ruskin cannot be uprooted from his historical context but nor, equally, can the responses of his readers be disentangled either from theirs, or from their perception of his. It would be a mistake to dismiss Ruskin's early readers as always reducing their hero's work to absurd simplicity, or self-righteously moral certainty. There are degrees of critical sophistication, certainly, but in looking back it is important not to imply in one's judgements that modern scholarship has unlocked all of Ruskin's secrets. There is, in other words, much to be said for taking these readers seriously on their own terms so long as those terms are acknowledged and understood. It is precisely in the constantly conflicting and altering responses of Ruskin's audience that his legacy lives on, in a vital dialogue with the Master.

Influence is neither singular nor fixed. What Ruskin means to one person or group he does not necessarily mean to another. His influence is felt in different degrees and its nature and intensity changes over time. Jose Harris cautions that ‘few of Ruskin's admirers agreed with him on every point, or were exclusively influenced by Ruskin’.56 Gill Cockram (p.19) writes, ‘Those influenced by Ruskin, moreover, were not in any sense organized into a cult or anything as clear-cut as a Ruskin “school”.’57 Elsewhere, she adds that ‘Ruskin's influence was refracted not only via his own works but via those of other thinkers he had inspired and influenced.’58 No individual or institution exists in a vacuum, and this study of influence seeks to put into its proper context the nature and extent of Ruskin's influence without precluding the possibility and reality of the influence and significance of other figures, from Carlyle to Morris in Britain, to international figures from Giuseppe Mazzini, Whitman, Emerson, and Thoreau, to Gandhi and Tolstoy, some of whom are themselves associated with Ruskin.

In particular, Ruskin is frequently bracketed with Carlyle and/or Morris, and to separate out his specific intellectual legacy is a vexed and complicated task which, whilst making its necessary distinctions, must acknowledge a mutual exchange of influences and ideas. Ultimately, even these two writers are more easily defined and categorized than Ruskin. Unlike Ruskin, Carlyle and Morris were not teachers. Carlyle has no history of practical engagement with the social problems about which he wrote, not least because his own work was rooted mainly in history, and because he became progressively disengaged from the everyday concerns of contemporary society. Morris, who was prolific in so many fields, nevertheless belongs to each in a way that Ruskin, as an inveterate outsider, never did. Morris, for instance, was definitely the leading figure of the arts and crafts movement, and he was definitely a socialist. Charles Dickens touched the hearts of his contemporaries with a moral appeal on behalf of the poor, but he was always, principally, a novelist and public performer of those novels. T. H. Green (1836–1882), as a pioneer of philosophic idealism, was hugely significant in encouraging his undergraduates to engage with the East End poor, but his influence, which broadened over time was, in his own lifetime, to a large extent confined to university men. In summary, they are all more easily pigeon-holed than the protean Ruskin.

The notion of ‘Ruskin the outsider’ is crucial to a full understanding of his legacy. Ruskin warned one of his followers, and therefore all of them, that ‘no true disciple of mine will ever be a “Ruskinian”! – he will follow, not me, but the instincts of his own soul, and the guidance of its Creator’.59 In his masterly analysis of this crucially significant aphorism, (p.20) Robert Hewison argues that Ruskin's distinction between the Ruskinian and the disciple is that between someone who reveres Ruskin as against someone who learns from him.60 He argues that it is, above all, Ruskin's idiosyncratic nature that makes being a Ruskinian, in Ruskin's terms, impossible.

In detailing Ruskin's troubled relationship with a range of institutions, most notably the University of Oxford, from which Ruskin resigned twice, and even Ruskin's own Guild of St George, Hewison argues that in a process of ‘self-dramatization’ Ruskin's personality became part of his argument, and that his ‘refusal to respect the categories, and the institutions that enforce them’ was simultaneously and paradoxically both the cause of the failure of his practical schemes and social interventions and the key to their success in Ruskin's own terms, because ‘his practical and impractical schemes were gestures, challenges, ways of getting people to act and think for themselves’.61 Ruskin's challenges constantly if imperatively demand responses. Hewison concludes, ‘To learn from Ruskin we must follow him into the labyrinth of his writings, but the true disciple of Ruskin will find his own way out.’62 Consistently, Ruskin's admirers feel the power and integrity of his writing even when they disagree with a particular judgement. Such departures do not render his thoughts any less valuable, nor do they diminish his influence.

Influence can be perverse, but to study it is to understand that perversity. Ruskin's political ideas defy categorization not because his views are unclear, although his means of expressing them make them appear at times bizarrely contradictory, but because, on the contrary, those ideas are unique, unconventional, and uncompromising. The elements of his thinking cannot be easily separated out, because they exist as a quasi-organic totality, held together by the vital force of his own personality.

Ruskin differed from, almost as much as he shared in, much of the progressive politics he influenced. Most of his admirers took to his anti-capitalism, but not his anti-democracy; his abhorrence of free-market capitalism and sympathy for state intervention met with approval, but his belief in the paramountcy of Church and Crown rarely did; the goal (p.21) of achieving social harmony was shared, but not his emphasis on the crucial need for hierarchy and authority. In 1930, the then Master of the Guild of St George, Hugh Charles Fairfax-Cholmeley, cautioned that, ‘I know too well the danger of Ruskinian teaching being converted into claptrap. It is the danger of all idealistic precepts.’63

Ruskin helped to feed the sense of moral outrage increasingly felt during this period. There was a sense of solidarity between, for example, working-class activists in the Independent Labour Party, and socially engaged lawyers, academics, journalists, businessmen, clergymen, and nonconformists working out local civic reforms. They effectively operated in an alliance of progressive political forces, unconsciously, loosely, and not infrequently antagonistically, but nevertheless mutually to alleviate the greatest hardships caused by modern, industrial capitalism. With the growth of municipal government, and the increasing appetite for state intervention in the matter of social reform, these men and women found a mechanism through which they could not merely criticize but try to put an end to the slums, the deprivation, and the starvation that they abhorred. Ruskin was among those to open their eyes to society's ugliness and injustice, and to give a voice to moral indignation.

In a period of change, when all categories were mutable and open to redefinition, in that turbulent period before and after the turn of the century, Ruskin did not merely act as a guide but did so as an outsider whose uniqueness rendered him essentially uncategorizable. As his organicist view of the connectedness of all aspects of life was gradually transformed from a radical viewpoint into, for so many reformers, an underlying assumption, Ruskin was able to exercise a degree of influence he could never have hoped for. He anticipated and helped to promote cultural change, so that the ideas that in his own intellectual lifetime were dismissed as outrageous, blasphemous, muddled, or wrong-headed, later lent him a currency as a prophet informing modern ideas. Gradually, and almost despite himself, Ruskin became relevant.

Ruskin The Outsider

Robert Hewison's argument that, partly because of his personality, Ruskin himself resisted assimilation by contemporary institutions, (p.22) highlights a truth about Ruskin's life and work that also provides the key explanation of how and why it is Ruskin, above all his contemporaries, who uniquely exercised such a broad and deep influence among so many of his readers. Willie Henderson has observed that ‘Ruskin's ideas, preferred modes of expression and his self-presentation, have tended to keep him outside the range of writings that the economics profession call their own.’64 The difficulty of categorizing Ruskin politically is partly responsible for what P. D. Anthony has called the ‘condescension’ with which his social criticism has often been treated.65 This is important because it highlights the double-edged nature of Ruskin's legacy: his strength can also be his weakness.

Ruskin's multiplicity is at once the root of his potential and of his vulnerability. Gill Cockram writes that ‘His thoughts were absorbed over the years but he had no political party to implement them.’66 This, she argues, has helped to obscure his influence, and it is true that it made him more vulnerable to attack.67 Cockram maintains that Ruskin's ‘economic criticism was ultimately incompatible with his theory of political organization’.68 There is much truth in this, though it might equally be observed that the disjunction between theory and practice, the fact that the reality falls short of the ideal, is the history of all politics. The range and breadth of Ruskin's writings, his being everywhere and yet belonging nowhere, opens him up to be claimed by anyone and everyone, and the diverse range of responses to Ruskin is given legitimacy by his own definition of what constitutes true discipleship.

Ruskin keenly emphasized his own sense of isolated uniqueness or, at least, he laid down an exaggerated claim for it. ‘I am so alone now in my thoughts and ways that if I am not mad,’ he wrote to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain at Christmas 1874, ‘I should soon become so from mere solitude.’69 It is a typically Ruskinian contradiction that the man reaching out simultaneously to Oxford undergraduates, to working men and other labourers (including, in its fullest sense, women), and to (p.23) supporters of what became his Guild of St George, and doing so through letters, lectures, and attempts at practical schemes, should paradoxically insist that he is cut off and alone. Yet beneath the apparent absurdity of such a claim is the familiar Ruskinian grain of truth, because as involved and engaged as Ruskin ever became, he always held something of himself back and remained an outsider.

He would set up a practical scheme only to have his gardener supervise it on his behalf. No sooner had he suggested the Guild than he effectively stood down as Master.70 Ruskin disparaged work to reform cities, yet helped to finance Octavia Hill's social-housing project, and provided the workers of Sheffield with the ultimate cultural palliative, a free museum. He would write to the workmen and labourers of Great Britain, but mask his writing in complexity, and would take decisions that would make his publications difficult to obtain, a difficulty only the defiance of his publisher could remedy.

Ruskin stands out from other contemporary figures. Yet that is not to say that studies of Carlyle's influence, or Morris's, would not also be valuable, both in themselves, and as a means of further contextualizing Ruskin. Ruskin, however, unlike these other figures, enjoyed a breadth of appeal that was intimately bound up with his own rebellious personality and the apparent contradictions of his writings. It is Ruskin, above all others, who possessed a uniquely powerful purchase simultaneously on socially engaged middle-class women and professional men, Oxford undergraduates, politically active autodidacts, morally affronted clergymen, nonconformists, and philanthropic businessmen who embraced civic reform.

The 39 volumes of the ‘Library Edition’ contain not only Ruskin's complete Works, but also his unfolding biography, and only when the life and the work are considered together can Ruskin's legacy be properly understood. P. D. Anthony wrote:

My contention is that Ruskin's temptation into political activity, as in the case of almost every radical critic (with the baleful exception of Marx and, ever here, practical success must be set against historical disaster), was a fiasco. The theoretical suggestions are, however, more interesting and significant.71

Yet Ruskin's social experiments were the practical embodiment of his call for social action. Raymond Williams was wrong in dismissing Ruskin's small-scale local experiments as absurd, and crediting only (p.24) Morris with the achievement of connecting with the working classes.72 Moreover, Anthony rightly contended that Ruskin was more practical in his theoretical approach because he argued that moral change was necessary for practical change, as J. A. Hobson had first highlighted, whereas Morris believed it was achievable through political action: ‘Old tory or old communist, Ruskin's criticism of contemporary society is consistently radical.’73

One historian has asked:

Anthony Trollope—a representative figure—remarked in his autobiography, written in the mid-1870s, how contemporaries were refusing to be influenced by the pessimism of Carlyle or Ruskin. ‘The loudness and extravagance of their lamentations’ seemed ‘so contrary to the convictions of men who cannot but see how comfort has been increased, how health has been improved, and education extended’. Had the sages been wrong in their writings? Or was it that society—increasingly urbanized, commercialized, and democratized—now lacked the capacity to accept their guidance because it had become irretrievably corrupted?74

On the contrary, it was precisely at this time that Ruskin's message did begin to resonate with a younger generation. For one thing, Ruskin's books became more widely available. His improving reputation is neatly illustrated by an argument described in the opening sentences of the memoirs of the poet W. B. Yeats. Arguing with his father John Butler Yeats, partly about Ruskin's ruthless ridiculing of John Stuart Mill's conception of wealth, the poet's angry father, who was an admirer of Mill, ‘broke the glass in a picture with the back of my head,’ Yeats said, a stark instance of the cultural generation gap.75

A later generation still largely rejected Ruskin. The nadir of his reputation and influence came in the 1920s, and had hardly recovered among the young by the 1950s. Jonathan Rose, in his survey of working-class readership, for example, has shown how Ruskin, like Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy, was left to gather dust on the shelf (p.25) of one Welsh-mining library in 1941, and the paucity of Ruskin studies throughout this period suggests that the situation was not untypical.76

Tim Hilton is justified when he wrote, ‘The Library Edition found none of the respect and fame that it deserved.’77 Edward Tyas Cook, in particular, worked stoically on his shared achievement with Alexander Wedderburn. The final volume, an Index, is nothing short of a masterpiece. Cook noted in his diaries how he saw in the new year in 1905 by editing Ruskin whilst his servants played Christmas music, and it was his constant refrain that he had spent ‘all day’ or ‘all afternoon’ on it, often including Sundays.78 Grace Allen, the publisher George Allen's daughter, and the chief proofreader of the 39 volumes, called it ‘the greatest monograph the world has ever seen’: leaving ‘for future generations as well as ours, such legacy of thought as words of mine are but poor words in describing’.79

In her introduction to Ruskin and the Dawn of the Modern, Dinah Birch wrote that Ruskin ‘helped to define the terms of the debates that we have come to take for granted as the foundation of twentieth-century culture’.80 Ruskin questioned the fundamental nature of the industrial capitalist society in which he lived. That question resonated with his disciples—one ought rather to say legatees, perhaps—even when they rejected many of the solutions he proposed, and it was the posing of the question that provided them both with the inspiration and the language to explore new possibilities. Often desperately pessimistic about his own impact, Ruskin once wrote, ‘Such as I am, to my own amazement, I stand—so far as I can discern—alone in conviction, in hope, and in resolution in the wilderness of this modern world.’81 He simultaneously fretted about and revelled in being an outsider. In 1873 Ruskin summarized what he considered to be his task:

to state clearly what must be done by all of us, as we can, in our place; and to fulfil what duty I personally acknowledge to the State; also I have promised, if (p.26) I live, to show some example of what I know to be necessary, if no more able person will show it first. That is a very different thing from pretending to leadership in a movement which must one day be as wide as the world. Nay, even my marching days may perhaps soon be over; and the best that I can make of myself be a faithful signpost.82

Ruskin's intention was not to provide models for others to copy, but to inspire others to recognize the problems he highlighted, and to find their own ways of dealing with them, learning from his example but not imitating him. Cook wrote of Ruskin's intentions regarding the Guild of St George that ‘His purpose was to point the way; his hope, that others would be found to take the lead in walking in it.’83 Ruskin was the ‘faithful signpost’ he sought to be, a foundational spirit who helped to direct progressive social action and political thought for key members of the generation that succeeded him.


(1) The Works of John Ruskin, ed. E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, 39 vols. (London, 1903–12), 27.558. This work has been consulted at all times.

(2) James C. Sherburne, John Ruskin or the Ambiguities of Abundance: A Study in Social and Economic Criticism (Cambridge, Mass., 1972), p. ix

(3) Cook 2.575.

(4) See Cook 2.576.

(5) This is not to deny that it is possible to reconstruct Ruskin's legacy in terms of specific policy developments. An obvious example is the significance of his ideas and practical example on housing policy. See, for example, Alison Ravetz, Council Housing and Culture: The History of a Social Experiment (Abingdon and New York, 2001), specifically pp. 29, 42, 46, 51, 57, 70, and 79.

(6) Bod. MS Eng c. 6736 (Edward Tyas Cook Papers, Diary, 19 March 1887) fo. 2b.

(7) Robert Hewison, John Ruskin [Very Interesting People Series] (Oxford, 2007), p. viii.

(8) Pall Mall Gazetteibid.

(9) Hewison, Ruskin [VIP], p. viii. Francis O'Gorman has also written of Cook's ‘effort to refashion Ruskin as a man of more liberal outlook’, see idem, ‘Ruskin's Science of the 1870s: Science, Education and the Nation’, in Dinah Birch (ed.), Ruskin and the Dawn of the Modern (Oxford, 1999), pp. 35–56, specifically, p. 37. For Ruskin's legacy, see Hewison, Ruskin [VIP], pp. 109–14.

(10) Cook 2.576–7.

(11) Brian Maidment, ‘Ruskin, Fors Clavigera and Ruskinism, 1870–1900’, in Robert Hewison (ed.), New Approaches to Ruskin: Thirteen Essays (London, Boston, and Henley, 1981), pp. 194–213, specifically p. 209. See also R. B. Stein, John Ruskin and Aesthetic Thought in America 1840–1900 (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), J. Autret, Ruskin and the French before Marcel Proust (Geneva, 1965), and H. R. Hitchcock, ‘Ruskin and American Architecture, or Regeneration Long Delayed’, in J. Summerson (ed.), Concerning Architecture (London, 1968), pp. 166–208.

(12) F. D. Curtin, ‘Aesthetics in English Social Reform: Ruskin and His Followers’, in H. Davis, W. de Vane, and R. Bald (eds.), Nineteenth-Century Studies (Ithaca, NY, 1940), pp. 199–245. Curtin also pointed out that Ruskin was admired by Carlyle, Emerson, Carpenter, and Kropotkin.

(13) See Holbrook Jackson, Dreamers of Dreams: The Rise and Fall of 19th-Century Idealism (London, 1948).

(14) See Graham Hough, The Last Romantics: Ruskin to Yeats (London, 1949), pp. xi, vii.

(15) See The Genius of John Ruskin, ed. John D. Rosenberg (originally 1963; Boston and London, 1979), p. 11.

(16) Birch (ed.), Dawn, p. 3.

(17) Gill Cockram, Ruskin and Social Reform: Ethics and Economics in the Victorian Age (London and New York, 2007), p. 204.

(18) Michael Robertson, Worshipping Walt: The Whitman Disciples (London, 2008)Leaves of GrassWorks

(19) ibid.

(20) See P. D. Anthony, John Ruskin's Labour, a Study of Ruskin's Social Theory (Cambridge, 1983).

(21) Ibid.

(22) Ibid.

(23) Jose Harris, ‘Ruskin and Social Reform’, in Birch (ed.), Dawn, pp. 7–33.

(25) Lawrence Goldman, ‘Ruskin, Oxford and the British Labour Movement, 1880–1914’, in Birch (ed.), Dawn, pp. 57–86.

(26) Ibid.

(27) Ibid.

(28) Cockram, Social Reform, p. 11.

(29) Ibid.

(30) Francis O'Gorman, ‘Sage and City: John Ruskin and Manchester’, Manchester Memoirs: The Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, vol. 135 (1996), pp. 55–70.

(31) Malcolm Hardman, Ruskin and Bradford: An Experiment in Victorian Cultural History (Manchester and Dover, NH, 1986), pp. 308–9

(33) See Sara E. Atwood, ‘ “A cowslip from an oxlip and a blackthorn from a white”: Ruskin's Educational Philosophy and Fors Clavigera’ (Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, City University, New York, 2006).

(34) See Gillian Fay Mawby, ‘Some Contemporary Responses To John Ruskin's Death: A Selective Examination of the Public and Private Letters, Literature, Architecture, Music and Poetry that Became an Apotheosis for Ruskin from the 1890s to 1908’ (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Lancaster University, 2007).

(35) See Anthony, Ruskin's Labour, pp. 190–3, Cockram, Social Reform, pp. 201–4, and Michael H. Lang, Designing Utopia: John Ruskin's Urban Vision for Britain and America (Montreal, New York, and London, 1999), pp. 73–99.

(36) Henry Pelling, The Origins of the Labour Party, 1880–1900 (Oxford, 1965), p. 31.

(37) See, for example, Lawrence Goldman, From Art To Politics: John Ruskin and William Morris (London, 2005).

(38) See O'Gorman in Birch (ed.), Dawn, pp. 35–56, and idem, ‘Sage and the City’. See also Brian Maidment, ‘Readers Fair and Foul: John Ruskin and the Periodical Press’, in J. Shattock and M. Wolff (eds.), The Victorian Periodical Press (Leicester, 1982), pp. 29–58; Alan Lee, ‘Ruskin and Political Economy: Unto this last’, in Hewison (ed.), New Approaches, pp. 68–88; Willie Henderson, ‘William Smart (1853–1915) Economist and Ruskinian?’, in idem, John Ruskin's Political Economy (London and New York, 2000) pp. 144–59.

(39) See Lang, Utopia.

(40) For example, Jonathan Rose, An Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven and London, 2001), and Phillip Waller, Writers, Readers and Reputations: Literary Life in Britain 1870–1918 (Oxford, 2006).

(41) Toni Cerutti, Ruskin and the Twentieth Century: The Modernity of Ruskinism (Vercelli, 2000), and Giovanni Cianci and Peter Nicholls (eds.), Ruskin and Modernism (Basingstoke and New York, 2001).

(42) See, for example, John D. Rosenberg, The Darkening Glass: A Portrait of Ruskin's Genius (New York and London, 1961), and Robert Hewison, John Ruskin: The Argument of the Eye (London and Princeton, 1976).

(43) Rachel Dickinson and Keith Hanley (eds.), Ruskin's Struggle for Coherence: Self-Representation through Art, Place and Society (Newcastle, 2006), p. xxv

(44) Ibid.

(45) Ibid.

(46) See Fred Inglis, History Man: The Life of R. G. Collingwood (Princeton and Oxford, 2009), p. 117.

(47) Genius, ed. Rosenberg, p. 9.

(48) See Violet Markham, Return Passage: The Autobiography of Violet R. Markham C. H. (London, 1953) pp. 50, 65–6.

(49) See Christina Rieger, ‘ “Sweet Order and Arrangement”: Victorian Women Edit John Ruskin’, in Journal of Victorian Culture, vol. 6, no. 2 (Autumn 2001), pp. 231–49. For examples of biographical studies see Anne Thackeray Ritchie, Records of Tennyson, Ruskin, Browning (London, 1892), Mary Alden Ward, Prophets of the Nineteenth Century: Carlyle, Ruskin, Tolstoi (London, 1900), Alice Meynell, John Ruskin (Edinburgh and London, 1900), and Ada Earland, Ruskin and His Circle (London, 1910).

(50) See Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence (New York, 1973).

(51) Goldman in Birch (ed.), Dawn, p. 61.

(52) Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (Oxford, 1975), pp. 54–5

(53) ibid.

(54) Binyon's essay, originally published in The Times Literary Supplement, was collected in Whitehouse (ed.), Ruskin the Prophet, pp. 61–80, specifically p. 78.

(55) Ibid.

(56) Harris in Birch (ed.), Dawn, p. 31.

(57) Cockram, Social Reform, p. 4.

(58) Ibid.

(59) Works 24.371.

(60) Robert Hewison, ‘Afterword: Ruskin and the Institutions’, in idem (ed.), New Approaches, pp. 214–29, specifically p. 217. Reiterated, with minor alteration, in idem, Art and Society, Ruskin and Sheffield, 1876 (London, 1981), p. 20.

(61) Hewison in idem (ed.), New Approaches, pp. 220, 227.

(62) Ibid.

(63) SA, GSG, Master's Report, 1929–30 (1930), p. 10.

(64) Henderson, Political Economy, pp. 27–8.

(65) Anthony, Labour, p. 2.

(66) Cockram, Social Reform, p. 205.

(67) Nevertheless, to claim, as Cockram does, that ‘it is difficult to assign him to any specific political ideology other than through the orientation of his disciples’ (see Cockram, Social Reform, p. 4), is to go too far. Ruskin's influence on the views of his disciples must be treated quite separately from any consideration of his own political views if the nature and extent of intellectual influence can be properly assessed.

(68) Cockram, Social Reform, p. 198.

(69) Works 28.206.

(70) See Works 28.644.

(71) Anthony, Labour, p. 177.

(72) Raymond Williams, Culture and Society 1780–1950 (London, 1958), p. 152

(73) Labouribid.J. A. Hobson, John Ruskin: Social Reformer (London, 1898

(74) Donald Read, ‘Art For Art's Sake’, reprinted in G. M. Young, Victorian England, ed. Asa Briggs (London, 1999), pp. 397–416, specifically p. 397. Trollope's autobiography was published posthumously in 1883.

(75) W. B. Yeats, Memoirs, ed. Denis Donoghue (London, 1971), p. 19.

(76) See Jonathan Rose, Intellectual Life, p. 247. The dearth of references to and studies of Ruskin at this time is significant. F. D. Curtin was an exception, but his focus was on men whose own work and direct influence was historical rather than contemporary.

(77) Hilton, p. 594.

(78) See Bod. MSS Eng d. 3323 (Edward Tyas Cook Papers, Diary, 31 December 1904), p. 75. See also MSS Eng d. 3324 (covering the period 1905–11).

(79) University of London Archives, bound mss. letters between John Ruskin and Grace Allen (1875–88), vol. 1, pp. 60, 59.

(80) Birch (ed.), Dawn, p. 3.

(81) Works 28.425.

(82) Works 27.557–8.

(83) Cook 2.338.