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The Letters of John Ruskin to Lord and Lady Mount-Temple

Edited and with an Introduction by John Lewis Bradley

The frantic, indeed psychotic obsession of John Ruskin for a young girl named Rose La Touche constitutes probably the most terrible (and, unfortunately, protracted, and, in the end, tragic) period in the life of that Victorian genius.

In recent years, the publication of previously suppressed documents relating to the affair, which ended with Rose’s death in a kind of religious insanity and which contributed decisively to the madness in which Ruskin spent his last dozen or more years, has inevitably made the story one of the central points in Ruskin biography, not only because it has a quite horrid fascination of its own, but also because it throws much light on Ruskin’s complex and desperately unhappy personality.

These letters are documents of unusual value for the fresh light they shed on a crucial phase of Ruskin’s life and for the incidental illustrations they offer of the breadth of his intellectual interests and the virtually obsessive nature of his work in many fields. Furthermore, unlike many similar collections, this one constitutes a connected drama and a coherent psychological narrative.

John Lewis Bradley is associate professor of English at The Ohio State University. He is the editor of the collection Ruskin’s Letters from Venice, 1851–52.

1964   399 pp. This title is no longer available in a traditional print edition. Click here for free access to the book’s full text.