John Ruskin


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The Early Years 1819-1859

Tim Hilton

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This authoritative biography of John Ruskin, the most influential nineteenth-century critic of art and society, is the fruit of almost twenty years of research and the first to return to the original sources. It draws on the complete text of Ruskin’s diaries and many thousands of unpublished letters and other documents to provide fresh insight into the background and content of Ruskin’s numerous books. In this fascinating book, Hilton shows how the youthful art critic became a significant didactic writer, developing a unique voice that was to shape his future as the most eloquent and radical of all the great Victorian writers.

"His awareness of the movement of social, political, intellectual, and religious currents during Ruskin's working life . . . is profound and sensitively informed.  .  .  . The analysis of Ruskin's work is presented convincingly and consistently as a reflection of his changing and developing character and beliefs.  .  .  .Tim Hilton shows him warts and all, yet in the showing compels the reader's fascination, compassion and admiration. This first volume is a formidable achievement."—David Piper, Guardian

"[A] wonderful new study of John Ruskin.  .  .  .This is a stupendous biography so far."—Fiona MacCarthy, The Times (London)

"The book's most appealing trait is that, while it does not confuse his personal history with the history of it, it takes care to bring them together and discuss the one in the light of the other."—Peter Gay, Times Literary Supplement

"An engaging story told by an obvious authority who respects his subject."—Booklist

"Hilton offers newer perspectives on this important Victorian writer, art critic, and proponent of social reform. . . .An excellent acquisition for academic libraries and a worthwhile, more detailed supplement for general collections which have relied upon Joan Abse's John Ruskin."—Library Journal

"The value of Hilton lies not only in his unhurried readability but in his illumining research using unpublished sources from the Ruskin archive on the Isle of Wight."—Robert Taylor, Boston Globe

"The best life of the Victorian critic of art, architecture and society we are likely to have for a long time."—Washington Post Book World

"The most readable and sympathetic [biography] that has yet appeared. . . . This biography achieves  perspective on its subject's character and achievement and on the well-known dramas of his domestic life."—John Bayley, New York Review of Books

"Ruskin will need no other biography in our time."—George J. Leonard, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Outstanding—beautifully written, scholarly without being weighed down by scholarly trappings, loving but level-headed."—John Gross, The Observer (Books of the Year)

"Written with both verve and authority. . . . John Ruskin: The Early Years will become the standard biography of Ruskin's early life for many years to come. Indeed, it is hard, today, to see how it could be superseded: it may well find its place in the swelling tide of new Ruskin studies as the last, and the greatest, of the 'Lives.'"—Peter Fuller, Burlington Magazine

"This beautifully written and meticulously researched account of the first 40 years of John Ruskin's life is an exemplary production....It proceeds with a judiciousness, a command of Ruskin's oeuvre, and a sense of the great critic's place in the history of modern thought that make it a minor masterpiece of biographical writing."—Roger Kimball, Architectural Record

"Mr. Hilton writes clearly, not to say simply, with an effortless command of his material.  His account of Ruskin's works kindles a desire to read or re-read them, and not only for the light they shed on Ruskin's personality."—Glen Cavaliero, Journal of the Royal Society of Arts

"[Hilton provides] a remarkably balanced account, unblinkered to his subject's faults.  this is the initial installment of, quite simply, a major biography."—David Goodway, The Victorian Society

"A great many biographies of John Ruskin have been written.... This first volume of Tim Hilton's study makes me think that his is the best. It has a verve and an exhilarating freshness that sets it apart from its predecessors. . . . Every serious scholar will have to acquire this volume, but even those who know practically nothing about Ruskin will find it enormously enjoyable." —Quentin Bell, American Historical Review

"This ambitious, comprehensive study has much to recommend it, particularly the insistent presentation of the surfaces of Ruskin's life. . . . [Hilton] presents a straightforwardly effective narrative which is rich with factual detail and sensible evaluation of the basic surfaces." —Fred Kaplan, Journal of English and Germanic Philosophy

"Working from long study in primary sources, Hilton is able to correct other biographies and even Ruskin's own Praeterita.  Rich in facts and written in a plain style, this study of an unusual scion of an unusual sherry dealer is highly readable."—Key Reporter

“Taken together, [John Ruskin: The Early Years and John Ruskin: The Later Years] constitute the finest and fairest life of Ruskin that has yet been written. It is likely to remain the standard work for a long time to come. . . . To every phase of Ruskin’s highly variegated literary oeuvre Mr. Hilton brings a judicious and informed critical intelligence. It has taken 100 years, but in Tim Hilton, Ruskin has found the champion he deserves.”—Hilton Kramer, Wall Street Journal
ISBN: 9780300032987
Publication Date: September 10, 1985
320 pages, 6 x 9
20 illus.
John Ruskin

The Later Years

Tim Hilton

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