Tim Hilton

Tim Hilton biography of Ruskin (Vol. 1) will be published next year.

Diary: Art Talk

Tim Hilton, 19 November 1992

Have you read Glen Matlock’s I was a teenage Sex Pistol? In its own way this is an enlightening book and I like the manner in which the words appear, splattered in a typeface that’s like a modern memorandum or a press release. Young Glen, though he can’t be so young today, had a good ghost writer in Pete Silverton. I guess that Pete pretty accurately represents Glen’s voice, as well as his ambitions. In the words of the blurb, ‘Matlock describes how chief Pistol Johnny Rotten and svengali manager Malcolm McLaren plotted the downfall of the rock establishment and how by hard work, good timing and brilliant PR, the Pistols shocked the nation.’ Pete got some other things from Glen’s mouth, including a fierce description of working-class community, which he believes to be now destroyed, in his native Acton. Glen thinks that this social change had an effect on his music. He’s the Hoggart of Punk. I didn’t realise that people said such things any longer. Intrigued, I went off to Acton to have a look. A chap in my position (between jobs) has to occupy his days in some way or another. I didn’t find much, apart from a mouse pie and a couple of pints. Nobody I met had much to say so I didn’t learn anything.

Art and Vulgarity

Tim Hilton, 18 September 1980

Kathryn Moore Heleniak has written quite an interesting book about minor art and vulgarity in the earlier part of the 19th century. She has a good subject in Mulready, whose paintings are the very alphabet and epitome of these art-historical problems, and whose career she has faithfully but not fully recorded. She is fond of him, as we ought to be: he had a determined, kind character. But she is at fault with Mulready’s art. Her overvaluation is ingenuous and persistent. The result is not only an inflation of his merits: she cannot feel his artistic nature.

Under Rose’s Rule

Tim Hilton, 3 April 1980

It was in the winter of 1929 that the young American scholar Helen Gill Viljoen went to Brantwood, Ruskin’s old home on Coniston Water, to pursue her postgraduate researches. In that dilapidated building, stripped of its more saleable treasures but housing still a wealth of manuscript material, she worked for some weeks: unsupervised, but advised by W.G. Collingwood, once Ruskin’s secretary and a guardian – practically the only guardian, in those days – of his memory. Viljoen, with seven years of Ruskin research already behind her, was well placed to listen to Collingwood. She rapidly realised that the view of Ruskin given by E.T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn in the 39-volume Library Edition, an editorial homage of a scale hither-to accorded to no English writer, was incomplete and often intentionally misleading.

Tim Hilton’s foreword to the concluding volume of his biography of Ruskin is intimate and magisterial in a way that would seem presumptuous in anyone else. But Hilton has worked with Ruskin...

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Ruskin among others

Raymond Williams, 20 June 1985

‘When I was an undergraduate in the early 1960s,’ Mr Hilton writes, ‘I was asked to understand that an interest in Ruskin was as foolish as an enthusiasm for modern art.’...

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