Sue Young Histories

John Ruskin 1819 - 1900

August 06, 2008

John Ruskin 1819 –
1900John Ruskin 1819 – 1900 is best known for his work as an art critic, sage writer, and social critic, but is remembered as an author, poet and artist as well. Ruskin’s essays on art and architecture were extremely influential in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

John Ruskin was an advocate of homeopathy and attended the hydrotherapy cure and was a patient of homeopath James Manby Gully. John Ruskin was also a correspondent of homeopath James John Garth Wilkinson (Anon, The British Spiritual Telegraph, being a weekly record of spiritual phenomena, Volume 1, (Keighley, Morell, 27th June 1857). Page 14 (quoted in this volume from a letter published in the New York Tribune). Edward Bulwer Lytton and John Ruskin went to Hampstead to see the spirit drawings done by Garth Wilkinson’s son in 1857). Ruskin was a friend of John Stuart Blackie, Octavia Hill, and Edward Acworth, John Ruskin was also a friend of Elizabeth (Eliza) Hetty Hall Wagstaff (?-?)the homeopathic and clairvoyant wife of allopath Philip Wynter Wagstaff of Leighton Buzzard (Van Akin Burd (ed.), Christmas story: John Ruskin’s Venetian letters of 1876-1877. (University of Delaware Press, 1990). Multiple pages). Ruskin was also a close friend of Lady Georgiana Tollemache Mount Temple, the wife of William Francis Cowper Temple 1st Baron Mount Temple (1811-1888) (James Gregory, Reformers, Patrons and Philanthropists, (Taurus Academic Studies, 2010). Page 57),

John Ruskin supported the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood which included artists Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt.

John Ruskin was acquainted with most of the literary luminaries of the day; a surviving group photograph shows him with Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Anthony Trollope, George MacDonald, George Henry Lewes, and William Makepeace Thackeray.

While in America he was a friend of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Walt Whitman. George MacDonald was a close friend of John Ruskin’s and served as a go between in John Ruskin’s long courtship with Rose la Touche. John Ruskin was also a close friend of Lewis Carroll, Thomas Carlyle and he was also a close friend of Robert and Elizabeth Browning.

John Ruskin also admired spiritualist Daniel Dunglas Home and John Ruskin was very interested in spiritualism, and as a result he also knew Mrs. Wagstaff ‘Waggie’, the homeopathic and clairvoyant wife of allopath Philip Wynter Wagstaff of Leighton BuzzardDante Gabriel Rossetti was a close friend of homeopath James John Garth Wilkinson, who introduced him to Mrs. Wagstaff,

Philip Wynter Wagstaff was the physician of John Ruskin’s friend William Cowper Temple. Mrs. Wagstaff was the homeopath of Edward Robert Lytton Bulwer Lytton, the son of Edward Bulwer Lytton.

William Cowper Temple and his wife Georgiana were very close friends of John Ruskin:

Now John Ruskin - who had considered Rossetti to be his best friend - faced the loss of his own untarnished angel. Yet far from freeing him, Rose’s death in a Dublin nursing home on May 25, 1875, merely tightened her grip on his psyche. Beset with grief, John Ruskin retreated to Broadlands, the Hampshire home of the Cowpers, who had played go-betweens in the tortuous affair.

William Cowper Temple (the illegitimate son of Henry Palmerston) and his wife, Georgiana (with whom John Ruskin too had fallen in love many years before), enthusiastically embraced the tenets of the Victorian new age - phrenology, vegetarianism, anti-blood sports, homeopathy and, above all, spiritualism.

In Unto This Last, John Ruskin expounded his theories about social justice, which influenced the development of the British Labour party and of Christian socialism. Upon the death of his father, John Ruskin declared that it was not possible to be a rich socialist and gave away most of his inheritance.

John Ruskin founded the charity known as the Guild of St George in the 1870s and endowed it with large sums of money as well as a remarkable collection of art. He also gave the money to enable Octavia Hill to begin her practical campaign of housing reform.

John Ruskin attempted to reach a wide readership with his pamphlets Fors Clavigera, aimed at the “working men of England”. He also taught at the Working Men’s College, London and was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, from 1869 to 1879, he also served a second term. Ruskin College, Oxford is named after him…

John Ruskin’s pioneering of the ideas that led to the Arts and Crafts movement

John Ruskin’s fantasy novelette The King of the Golden River (1841) prepared the ground for the major fantasy novels of his close friend George MacDonald, who in 1858 wrote what is considered the first fantasy novel for adults, Phantastes.

The manner in which The King of the Golden River was written - as a gift to the twelve year old Effie Grey - also became a template for Lewis Carroll’s fantasy manuscript Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, which was written for Alice Liddell and later revised and published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865).

John Ruskin also contributed to the scholarship on this newly emerging genre later in his life, defining the aims of fantasy literature in his lecture “Fairy Land” (in The Art of England, 1884)…

A number of utopian socialist ”Ruskin Colonies” were created in attempts to put his political ideals into practice. These included the founders of Ruskin, Nebraska; Ruskin, Florida; Ruskin, British Columbia; and the Ruskin Commonwealth Association, a colony which existed in Dickson County, Tennessee from 1894 to 1899.

John Ruskin’s ideas also influenced the development of the British Labour Party. In Britain, many streets, places and colleges are named after John Ruskin.

Today, Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge bears his name. The university traces its origins to the Cambridge School of Art, which John Ruskin founded in 1858.

It was Ruskin’s ability to bring religious awareness back into economic thought that caused George Bernard Shaw to assert in his Fabian pamphlet on Ruskin that “the most thoroughgoing opponents of our existing state of society” declared themselves followers not of Karl Marx but of Ruskin.

It is a striking paradox that Ruskin had no sooner undergone his conversion from Evangelical Anglicanism to the Religion of Humanity than he most strenuously asserted, in his quarrels with the political economists that, as Plato said, “Not man, but a god, must be the measure of all things.”

John Ruskin, the famous English occultist, art critic, writer and socialist reformer was born in London. His writings include, the first volume of his Modern Painters, mainly in defense of the painter Joseph Mallord William Turner and his art, which appeared in 1843 and soon extended to five considerable volumes, followed in 1849 by the Seven Lamps of Architecture; this was followed in 1851 by the Stones of Venice.

In 1862 he published Unto This Last, on the first principles of political economy, the doctrines in which were further expounded in Munera Pulveris, Time and Tide and Fors Clavigera.

From 1869 to 1879, and again from 1883 to 1884, he was Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University. The story of his life is told in part in his unfinished Praeterita.

His gravestone at Coniston where he is buried characterizes his pagan beliefs. The stone was designed by W.E. Collingwood (1854-1932), a student of his and his secretary. The chief symbols cut into his gravestone are these: A Maltese Cross (symbol of the Babylonian sun god and Order of Knights Templar) inside which is a circle (representing a serpent biting its tail) surrounding a Nazi swastika, a rider riding a horse (actually depicting St. George on his white horse, or King Arthur), a Jewish seven branched candelabrum, a winged lion (from Babylon – symbol of the mother-earth goddess, Ishtar), a student with pen and paper seated while writing before a sunrise, an elaborate arrangement of various Celtic triscele symbols, and three men representing the three principal officers of the Masonic Lodge in which he was a member…