(8 February 1819 – 20 January 1900)
Ruskin was born at 54 Hunter Street, Brunswick Square, London (demolished 1969), just south of modern-day St Pancras railway station.His childhood was characterised by the contrasting influences of his father and mother, both fiercely ambitious for him.
His father, John James Ruskin (1785–1864), was a sherry and wine importer.
His mother, Margaret Cox, née Cock (1781–1871), was the daughter of a publican in Croydon.
Ruskin’s childhood was spent from 1823 at 28 Herne Hill, near the then village of Camberwell in South London.
Ruskin as a young child, painted by James Northcote.
He was educated at home by his parents and private tutors, and from 1834–35 he attended the school in Peckham run by the progressive Evangelical, Thomas Dale. Ruskin also heard Dale lecture in 1836 at King's College London, where he was the first professor of English Literature.
King's College London
Ruskin was greatly influenced by the extensive and privileged travels he enjoyed in his childhood. It helped to establish his taste and augmented his education.
His father visited business clients in Britain's country houses, exposing the young John to English landscapes, architecture and paintings. Tours took them to the Lake District (his first long poem, Iteriad)and to relations in Perth, Scotland.
visited France and Belgium, Strasbourg, Schaffhausen,Milan, Genoa and Turin, places to which Ruskin would frequently return. He developed his lifelong love of the Alps, and in 1835 he first visited Venice, that 'Paradise of cities' that formed both the symbol in and the subject of much of his later work.
Ruskin’s first publication was his poem "On Skiddaw and Derwent Water" In 1834 three short articles for Loudon's Magazine of Natural History were published. They show early signs of his skill as a close “scientific” observer of nature, especially its geology.
From September 1837 to December 1838, Ruskin’s The Poetry of Architecture was serialised in Loudon's Architectural Magazine, under the pen name "Kata Phusin" (Greek for "According to Nature").
Marriage to Effie Gray
Effie Gray painted by Thomas Richmond. She thought the portrait made her look like "a graceful Doll".
During 1847 Ruskin became closer to Effie Gray, the daughter of family friends.
It was for Effie that Ruskin had written The King of the Golden River. The couple were engaged in October. They married on 10 April 1848 at her home, Bowerswell, in Perth, once the residence of the Ruskin family.
Oxford’s first Slade Professor of Fine Art
Ruskin was unanimously appointed the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford University in August 1869, largely through the offices of his friend, Henry Acland.
Henry Acland (right) with John Ruskin in 1893
In January 1871, the month before Ruskin started to lecture the wealthy undergraduates at Oxford University
Works by Ruskin