Bibliography of Ruskin (1878–81)

Richard Herne Shepherd compiled the first professional Ruskin bibliography, The Bibliography of Ruskin: A Bibliographical List Arranged in Chronological Order of the Published Writings in Prose and Verse of John Ruskin, M.A.. It went through five editions:
In addition, an American edition, published in New York by John Wiley and Sons in 1878, was based on the second edition. Of the British editions, only the fifth carries a publisherʼs imprint on the title page: London: / Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row. This edition was issued also in a large format, a “special edition printed for the members of the Ruskin Society.” Of the British editions prior to the fifth—certainly the first, and presumably the second through the fourth, as well—were “printed for private circulation,” according to a clipping attached to a copy of the first edition held by the Ruskin Library, Lancaster, and copies were available “on application to the editor.” See also the description of the publication in Ruskin, Works, 38:110. Collins, “Richard Herne Shepherd,” mentions that some of Shepherdʼs works were published by his brother, who ran a bookshop in Holborn under the name of Frank Hollings, but this arrangement would not have come about prior to 1892 (see Paden, “Tennysonʼs The Loverʼs Tale, Shepherd, and Wise,” 117n).
The first, third, and fifth editions appear to have been published without the compilerʼs name anywhere indicated, whether on the title page or at the end of the introduction.
The first four editions carry a dedication to the artist, Henry Backhouse (his full name given as Henry Fleetwood Backhouse, starting with the third edition), “who first suggested to the compiler the idea of this little bibliography.” Perhaps Backhouse originally helped subsidize the publication, since the dedication is dropped from the fifth edition, published by Elliot Stock; or perhaps Backhouse was simply one of the avid Ruskin “collectors” to whom the author hoped the bibliography would “prove useful,” according to the clipping on the Ruskin Library copy.
Expansion and reissue of the bibliography was planned from the start, since, in the introduction to the first edition, the author anticipates “more fortunate or more persistent research” (Shepherd, Bibliography of Ruskin [1st ed.], vii). Already expanded for reissue a month later, the second edition names with thanks several individuals who supplied additional items for description (Shepherd, Bibliography of Ruskin [2d ed.], viii). The list attests that influential persons took an interest in the project.
Doubtless Shepherd had also hoped from the start to gain an acknowledgment from Ruskin himself. In a letter of 30 September 1878, written apparently in response to receiving the first edition, Ruskin answered Shepherd: “So far from being distasteful to me, your perfect reckoning up of me not only flatters my vanity extremely, but will be in the highest degree useful to myself. But you know so much more about me than I now remember about anything, that I canʼt find a single thing to correct or add—glancing through at least. I will not say you have wasted your time; but I may at least regret the quantity of trouble the book must have given you. . . .” In a second letter, dated 23 October 1878, Ruskin acknowledges receipt undoubtedly of the second edition: "I am very deeply grateful to you, as I am in all duty bound, for this very curious record of myself. It will be of extreme value to me in filling up what gaps I can in this patched coverlid of my life, before it is draped over my coffin—if it may be. I am especially glad to have note of the letters to newspapers.” These letters are printed as loose inserts included with the second edition, at least as found in the Ruskin Libraryʼs copy, but various evidence confirms that the letters did originally belong to that edition.The American edition, published by Wiley and based on the second edition, carries the 30 September letter, printed opposite the title page. In both the American and the British second editions, this letter is prefaced by the explanation: "The Compiler of this Bibliography has had the honour to receive, in acknowledgment of a copy which he sent to Brantwood, the following letter from Mr. Ruskin." The second letter, as suggested by its 23 October 1878 date, may likewise have accompanied the second edition; however, the origin of its separate printed card is unclear. The Bodleian Library copy of the second edition, as shown online in Google Books, includes only the first Ruskin letter.

It is no accident, therefore, that the second edition carried Shepherdʼs name in print, as did the fourth, which likewise involved self‐advertisement using Ruskinʼs letters (see below).
Ruskinʼs comment in the October letter about his interest in “the letters to newspapers” refers to a particular interest of Shepherdʼs. In the introduction to the first edition of the bibliography, Shepherd expressed his special solicitude to track down the public letters, and the second edition does contain additional entries of this kind. One wonders if Shepherd was planning to collect these ephemera; if so, he was trumped by Alexander Wedderburna, who with Ruskinʼs support collected Ruskinʼs public letters to newspapers in Arrows of the Chase, published in 1880 (see Ruskin, Works, 34:xxxviii).Wedderburn prints Ruskinʼs letters to Shepherd in Arrows of the Chase, noting that the letters are “given in the List of ‘Mr. Shepherdʼs Publications,’ printed at the end of his The Bibliography of Dickens, 1880 (Ruskin, Works, 34:537). The texts of both letters, September and October 1878, are indeed found in the back matter of Shepherd, The Bibliography of Dickens), following numerous complimentary squibs from journals about Shepherdʼs Ruskin bibliography. Wedderburnʼs remark in Arrows of the Chase suggests that he took the texts of the letters from this source and knew nothing about their prior printing to accompany the Ruskin bibliography. The list printed at the back of the Dickens bibliography advertises specifically the fourth edition of the bibliography, which is the one other edition besides the second to bear Shepherdʼs name in print.

In each edition of the bibliography except the last, which drops the authorʼs introduction, Shepherd dwells on his care: “the materials for [the bibliographyʼs] compilation have taken many years to collect, and much anxious labour has been spent on its preparation and arrangement. No entry has in any case been made at second‐hand; but always with the actual book, pamphlet, magazine, or journal described lying before the compiler.” Indeed, the thoroughness of Shepherdʼs sleuthing is impressive. Entries on Ruskinʼs early publications are in some cases annotated with quotations identifying or legitimating the piece. For example, Shepherd authenticates his entry for Ruskinʼs two 1834 essays published in The Magazine of Natural History, “Enquiries on the Causes of the Colour of the Water of the Rhine,” and “Facts and Considerations on the Strata of Mont Blanc,” by quoting a footnote from the so‐called Instructions in Use of the Rudimentary Series for the Drawing Schools at Oxford (1872), where Ruskin remarks that “Mr. Loudon was the first literary patron who sent words of mine to be actually set up in print, in his Magazine of Natural History, when I was sixteen” (Shepherd, Bibliography of Ruskin [2d ed.], 1–2; see also Works 21:243n). Similarly, in the entry for The Poetry of Architecture (1839), Shepherd appends a nugget from Ruskinʼs 1878 essay on W. H. Harrison, “My First Editor: An Autobiographical Reminiscence.” Shepherd quotes: “the series of essays written for the Architectural Magazine, under the signature of Kata Phusin, contain sentences nearly as well put together as any I have done since” (Shepherd, Bibliography of Ruskin [2d ed.], 2; see also Works, 34:97). In the quotation from the Instructions for the Drawing Schools, Shepherd not only references an obscure footnote; he must have obtained the pamphlet itself with some difficulty, it having never been issued for sale, but printed only for students of the Drawing Schools (perhaps obtained from Backhouse or one of the contributors thanked in the introduction). Ruskinʼs essay on Harrison was likewise somewhat obscure. Familiar nowadays to Ruskin scholars, as it was reprinted in 1885 in On the Old Road, in 1878 the piece would have been accessible to Shepherd only as a preface to Harrisonʼs memoir, recently published in the Dublin University Magazine. (In fact, since Ruskinʼs essay on Harrison appeared in April 1878, and Shepherdʼs first issue of the bibliography later that year in September, one wonders if it was Ruskinʼs tribute to his first editor that first inspired Shepherdʼs project.) Similarly, in his edition of Barrett Browningʼs juvenilia, Shepherd cites journal and encyclopedia articles authenticating the poetʼs early volumes, and those essays, too, may have prompted Shepherdʼs undertaking (Barrett Browning, Earlier Poems, ed. Shepherd, v–viii).
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