Under Rose’s Rule

Tim Hilton

  • John Ruskin and Rose La Touche: Her Unpublished Diaries of 1861 and 1867 edited by Van Akin Burd
    Oxford, 192 pp, £6.95, January 1980, ISBN 0 19 812633 6

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.

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