Books Used by Ruskin in His Youth
The aim of this note is not to attempt an exhaustive listing of books that Ruskin read or consulted in his youth. Information about Ruskinʼs reading and its influences is available throughout ERM, in the apparatuses and glosses of works containing specific allusions to and borrowings from publications to which he was exposed. Especially influential authors and published sources, moreover, are discussed in notes of their own. This information can be accessed using the siteʼs search engine.
The purpose of the present note is, rather, to centralize Resources for researching the Ruskin family reading, by extending and enhancing existing research sources. Included are Lists of Annual Book Purchases by the Ruskin Family, and Physical Descriptions of Some Books Used by Ruskin in Youth. These resources build on the enumerative bibliographies compiled by Van Akin Burd in The Ruskin Family Letters (i.e., lists of annual book purchases drawn from John James Ruskinʼs Account Book, RF MS 28, 1827–45); and by James S. Dearden in The Library of John Ruskin. Those sources remain a starting point for all investigations of the Ruskin family reading. The resources provided here to supplement those bibliographies are prefaced by some remarks, On Researching Ruskinʼs Reading in His Youth.
On Researching Ruskinʼs Reading in His Youth
Regarding the Ruskin familyʼs ownership or consultation of a given title at a given time, a measure of uncertainty will always be attached to documentable evidence of its presence in the family library—or for that matter, to the absence of such evidence. For example, the fact that John James purchased a book designed for youth does not necessarily mean it was intended for John; some purchases may have been intended as gifts for Johnʼs cousins, especially for Mary Richardson (1815–49), who lived with the Ruskin family from 1828 to her marriage in 1848. While James S. Dearden comments about the family library that “the books owned by all three Ruskins must be considered to be part of ‘Ruskinʼs Library’ because he ultimately inherited his parentsʼ possessions, as well as having the use of them during their lifetimes”, one wonders how far the availability, much less the inheritance, extended in the case of Maryʼs books. Dearden is right to conclude with the caveat that, “although Ruskinʼs lifetimeʼs library was much greater than it was at any one time, we do not know its total extent” (Library of John Ruskin, xv, xxiv). The most valuable evidence that ERM can contribute to the question of Ruskinʼs reading lies in the edited texts, which can reveal lexical traces of readings that may have left no material trace in the family record.
As Dearden remarks, in adulthood Ruskin “was essentially . . . a book‐buyer rather than a book borrower or library user” (Library of John Ruskin, xix), a habit that appears to have been inherited from his father, who was generous with purchases of books for his familyʼs education and entertainment. Still, there is no way of knowing whether publications that left their influence in the early manuscripts were borrowed or owned, if otherwise unrecorded as part of the family library in the 1820s–30s. For example, Felicia Hemans was sufficiently admired for Ruskin to have transcribed her poem, “The Sound of the Sea” (1826) in MS IVB, probably based on the text as published in the New Monthly Magazine. He also adapted passages from Hemansʼs long poem, The Restoration of the Works of Art to Italy, published by Murray in 1816, for use in his own poem, “Saltzburg”. Yet Mrs. Hemans is curiously absent from records of the Ruskinsʼ book ownership, apart from poems included in literary annuals that the Ruskins are known to have owned. How publications by Hemans passed through their hands—whether by purchase, borrowing, or just casually encountering a periodical outside the house—will probably remain a mystery.
Borrowing could have provided a means for Margaret Ruskin to control what books entered the house. She appears to refer to borrowing, for example, when she writes to John James about the novel, The Fool of Quality (1766–72) by Henry Brooke (1703–83). Since she “did not like” the novel, she “got the first volume merely to read the History of the three little fishes to John”. In this instance, Margaretʼs renewed encounter with the novel led to “the Almighty open[ing] the understanding”, and she decided to “read it together” with John James. Perhaps only then was the full work acquired for the household, perhaps in the abridgement of the novel by John Wesley (Margaret to John James Ruskin, 15 May 1826, Ruskin Family Letters 145; Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 51 [no. 336]; see Peace, “Sentimentality in the Service of Methodism”).
On travels, the Ruskins supplemented books they brought with them by tapping resources along the way; for example, during the tour of Switzerland in 1833, when John fell ill, his father and cousin Mary cheered him up by finding “some English books from a library” along with “2 or 3 volumes of Gaglianiʼs Magazine”—that is, one of the periodicals issued by Librairie Galignani, the Paris‐based English‐language publisher, bookseller, and circulating library, which published two monthly journals, the Repertory (ca. 1807–25), and Galignaniʼs Monthly Review and Magazine (ca. 1822–25), as well as a daily, the Messenger (ca. 1814–1904). Galignani also published a series, Standard Modern Novels and Romances, which supplied English travelers and expatriates with contemporary British poetry and prose. The editions were issued in duodecimo, a size convenient for travel, but printed using excellent type and engravings, and edited for correct and complete text—in some cases, text more complete and reliable than what could be found in London editions. As piracies, the volumes were priced significantly cheaper than corresponding London editions, and sold in paper‐covered boards—volumes that could be shared among travelers at a hotel and left behind for othersʼ enjoyment. Ruskin did retain from boyhood one of Galignaniʼs outstanding volumes in the series (possibly obtained from a London seller rather than from abroad)—The Complete Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats (1829), an edition that, at the time of publication, was superior to any British edition of Percy Shelley, and the only edition of Keats available in collected form (Diary of Mary Richardson, 1833, 106; Barber, “Galignaniʼs and the Publication of English Books in France”, 269, 284, 272–74; Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 76 [no. 556]).
Besides the possibility that books were borrowed, another kind of caveat should be applied to Ruskinʼs retrospective accounts of his boyhood reading. The authors and titles he mentions in the opening chapters of Praeterita are not untrue to his early reading, but his account of how he both loved certain books and resisted others has charmed readers into fixating on a short list of titles that is potentially misleading. First, the list is highly selective—contrasting, for dramatic effect, the enforced Sunday reading of John Bunyanʼs Pilgrimʼs Progress and Daniel Defoeʼs Robinson Crusoe with weekday “reading of my own election” of Walter Scottʼs novels and Homer (Alexander Popeʼs translation of the “Iliad”)—but, as shown in Physical Descriptions of Some Books Used by Ruskin in Youth, these classics were mixed in Ruskinʼs juvenile library with works both secular and Sabbatarian that now seem much more ephemeral. Second, Ruskinʼs retrospection flattens these readings in time, suggesting that his study even of favored works was both simultaneous and compartmentalized. In fact, even if true that his reading was subject to this weekly division, his reading was also regulated by competing programs. Moreover, the books themselves and Ruskinʼs responses to them did not necessarily adhere to the categories assigned to them. As shown in ERM commentary and in the Ruskin Family Letters, the Ruskins, no less than other middle‐class families, attempted to follow the program of graduated, age‐appropriate reading for children as recommended by educationists like the Barbaulds and Edgeworths. Yet Ruskinʼs writings in ERM also reflect his tendency to buck the program, by reading texts above his years (e.g., Joyceʼs Scientific Dialogues, which he copied verbatim in “Harry and Lucy . . . Vol I”, but which are too advanced for that context). Moreover, Ruskin and his mother shared weekday reading, in which the religious influences were likely more powerful and memorable to him (e.g., the White Lady as a protector of Protestantism in Walter Scottʼs The Monastery) than the Sunday sermons he attempted to copy.
Lists of Annual Book Purchases by the Ruskin Family
In The Ruskin Family Letters, Van Akin Burd transcribes John Jamesʼs brief notations of authors and/or titles that he purchased each month of every year, from 1827 through 1845, in his Account Book. In the ledger, book purchases are included among many other miscellaneous items on the pages devoted to “Sundries” for each year. Because John James notes the amounts spent, Burd is able in many cases to identify the authors/titles with specific editions available at the time from publishers at those prices. Burdʼs transcriptions and annotations are very reliable, but should nonetheless be revisited and compared against the manuscript of the Account Book, since John Jamesʼs entries are sometimes ambiguous. Where appropriate, original entries in Account Book are referenced throughout ERM. Here, for convenience of reference, are listed the page numbers in Ruskin Family Letters of Burdʼs transcribed lists, along with the corresponding pages of “Sundries” in the Account Book. Here also are expansions and suggested corrections of Burdʼs lists.
Burd omitted one year of sundry book purchases, those for 1830, from Ruskin Family Letters, presumably because no letters are extant from that year, thus giving no occasion for annotation. Dearden has incorporated the 1830 purchases into the alphabetized entries in The Library of John Ruskin; however, since John Jamesʼs book lists organized chronologically by year form a helpful comparison with the discussions of dating works and manuscripts in ERM, the 1830 book list is compiled in its entirety, cross‐referenced with entries in The Library of John Ruskin. This list and others from 1827–45 will be updated as new information comes to light. More speculatively, annual lists are also compiled for years prior to the start of John Jamesʼs Account Book in 1827. These identifications are ongoing.
Some names are transcribed from John Jamesʼs “Sundries” that may or may not refer to books or authors. John James often listed names of vendors as shorthand for the wares they supplied, as well as naming recipients of gifts or purchases. In many cases, it is mere speculation whether a proper name refers to purchase of a book or of some other kind of item, and these names are flagged as “unidentified”. Yet the occurence of some names can sometimes be aligned with other information to identify book titles and authors at least tentatively. Again, these identifications are ongoing.
- Books purchased in 1827
- Books purchased in 1828
- Books purchased in 1829
- Books purchased in 1830
- Account Book, 17r
- Jones 16/8 (unidentified)
- St. Pierre 10/ (possibly a work by Jacques‐Henri Bernardin de Saint‐Pierre; earliest purchase cited by Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, is a copy of Paul et Virginie, bought in 1840 [28, no. 194]
- Burrell 42/ (unidentified)
- Museums 10/ (unidentified)
- Newspaper £1.5/
- West 4/
- Horace 9/6 (edition unidentified)
- Cowpers £1./ (possibly William Cowper, Poems , cited by Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 82 [no. 614], or another work by the poet)
- Greek 11/ (unidentified)
- Colours John 34/ (watercolors for John?)
- Every day Book 38/ (possibly William Hone [1780–1842], The Every‐day Book; or, the Guide to the Year, illustrated by George Cruikshank et al. [first published 1825, revised annually?])
- Rutter £8.7/. (unidentified)
- Newspaper £1.4/4
- Newspaper 22/9
- Tam OʼShanter 10/ (see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 58 [no. 399], which does not specify an edition; possibly Robert Burns, Tam OʼShanter, a Tale; to which are added Observations on the Statues of Tam OʼShanter and Souter Johnny, now Exhibiting . . . [London: John Murray, 1829], compiled along with occasional poems to commemorate these sculptures by the self‐taught Scottish stone carver, James Thom (1802–50), whose statues toured Glasgow, Edinburgh, and London in 1829; see Gibson, Bibliography of Robert Burns, 147–48)
- Tales Grand 10/6 (an edition of Walter Scott, Tales of a Grandfather, of which the fourth series was published in December 1830; see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 310 [no. 2435])
- Clark 10/6 (possibly John Clarke, An Introduction to the Making of Latin; see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 73 [no. 530])
- Latin Gr 30/ (possibly a Latin grammar or a Latin‐Greek dictionary)
- Parnell 9/6 (Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, identifies as Sir Henry Parnell, On Financial Reform (p. 250 [no. 1957])
- Natt 15/ (possibly John Claudius Loudon, Magazine of Natural History)
- Greek Testt £2.2 (i.e., Greek Testament; see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 39 [no. 237])
- 2 Anacreons 30/ (i.e., two editions of Anacreon; see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 11 [no. 55])
- Northcote 10/6 (possibly Hazlitt, Conversations with James Northcote RA, published at this price by Colburn in 1830; see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 152 [no.1207], which does not connect a copy with this notation in the Account Book)
- Loudon 21/ (possibly a work by John Claudius Loudon; see Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 208, which does not connect any copies with this notation in the Account Book)
- Scott 12/ (possibly a work by Walter Scott; Dearden, The Library of John Ruskin, 306–11, connects no copies with this notation)
- Account Book, 17r
- Books purchased in 1831
- Books purchased in 1832
- Books purchased in 1833
- Books purchased in 1834
- Books purchased in 1835
- Books purchased in 1836
- Books purchased in 1837
- Books purchased in 1838
- Books purchased in 1839
- Books purchased in 1840
- Books purchased in 1841
- Books purchased in 1842
- Books purchased in 1843
- Books purchased in 1844
- Account Book, 85v
- Books purchased in 1845
- Account Book, 90v
Physical Descriptions of Some Books Used by Ruskin in Youth
Books held by the Beinecke Library, Yale University
- Fairy Tales [title on binding; three separately published items bound together].
- Provenance: Sharp. Viljoen. Bookplate of John Ruskin, type 2 (Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, xcv–xcvi).
- Location: Beinecke Library, New Haven, Conn.; call no. 2000 1638.
- Documentation and discussion: For the three items in the binding, see Dearden, Library of John Ruskin,
13 [no. 74], 19 [no. 115], 321 [no. 2527], respectively.
The responsibility for and circumstances of binding these three items as “Fairy Tales” are unknown.
This title on the spine applies most legitimately to the first of the items, Mother Bunchʼs Fairy Tales,
whereas the other two items belong only marginally, each containing just one or two stories that feature a fairy or fantastical events.
Regardless of the consistency of the collection, however, an implicit rationale becomes apparent by comparing the contents of another bound collection,
[The Widow of Roseneath etc.],
which appears to be a complementary volume.
Besides their contents, the three items in “Fairy Tales” also notably have in common their publication by J. Lumsden and Son of Glasgow. Now highly regarded among collectors, Lumsdenʼs childrenʼs books are distinguished by “a certain trimness (primness one might almost call it) in the covers, the quality of the paper used, the excellent type‐face, the occasional use of coloured inks for text and illustrations, usually bistre or sanguine, occasionally green, and a few hand‐coloured illustrations”. In their own time, however, the books were apparently little known outside of Scotland; and even in their own country, they were not widely popular, because their prices were considered rather dear, even at two pence or six pence per copy—cheaper and less elegant chapbooks by this publisher being more commonly found (Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, xi, xiii)
The Lumsden firm produced childrenʼs books ca. 1790–1850, but seldom printed dates on title pages (Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, xv). The three books bound together here are all undated. Dearden, without explanation, dates them tentatively as 1814, presumably because that date is the lower limit suggested by Roscoe and Brimmell in each of their analytical descriptions of of these books, as follows.
- Mother Bunchʼs | Fairy Tales. |
Published for the | Amusement | of all those | Little Masters and Misses | who, |
by Duty to their Parents, and Obedience | to their Superiors, | Aim at Becoming |
Great Lords and Ladies. | Embellished with Engravings. | Glasgow: | Published by J. Lumsden and Son. |
- Discussion: Most of the stories in this anthology originated in fairy tales by
Marie‐Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Comtesse dʼAulnoy (ca. 1650–1705), written for the sophisticated Paris literary salons
in the age of Louis XIV. The texts translated into English from Countess dʼAulnoyʼs originals have a complex history.
Ruskinʼs copy matches the bibliographical description of an edition published ca. 1817 by the firm J. Lumsden and Son
(Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, 68–69 [no. 102];
see Fairy Tales: Documentation and Discussion).
The Lumsden edition was a piracy and abridgement of an English edition
published in 1802 and 1817 by the London publisher of childrenʼs books, John Harris;
and the Harris editions were in turn based on editions (ca. 1773–99) published by the firm of John Newbery
(Blamires, “From Madame dʼAulnoy to Mother Bunch”, 75; and see
, 72 [nos. 470–71).
Newbery originated the title, Mother Bunchʼs Fairy Tales, and adapted an earlier English translation (1721, reprinted frequently through 1817, and including tales by other French salon writers). This early eighteenth‐century English translation, according to David Blamires, was faithful to the original, sophisticated French tales and intended for adult readers. The Newbery edition and its descendents simplified the texts for child readers, and reassigned the authorship from Madame dʼAulnoy to the fictitious Mother Bunch, an English folklore figure whom children could imagine as a storyteller similar to Mother Goose. Through these successive adaptations of the English texts by Newbery, Harris, and Lumsden for an audience of middle‐class children—as well as through issues of individual tales in chapbook form for a working‐class audience—the French salon fairy tales came be regarded as English and traditional (Blamires, “From Madame dʼAulnoy to Mother Bunch”, 75–78).
In the subtitle, first applied by Newbery and carried through the adaptations by Harris and Lumsden, the specification that the tales were meant to amuse “little masters and misses” signals that the tales were meant for younger children. For Newbery in the eighteenth century, the purpose of such books was to teach children basic reading, as compared with books designated for “young gentlemen and ladies”, which contained “lessons of life” (Townsend, “John Newbery and Tom Telescope”, 82–83).
- Discussion: Most of the stories in this anthology originated in fairy tales by Marie‐Catherine Le Jumel de Barneville, Comtesse dʼAulnoy (ca. 1650–1705), written for the sophisticated Paris literary salons in the age of Louis XIV. The texts translated into English from Countess dʼAulnoyʼs originals have a complex history. Ruskinʼs copy matches the bibliographical description of an edition published ca. 1817 by the firm J. Lumsden and Son (Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, 68–69 [no. 102]; see Fairy Tales: Documentation and Discussion). The Lumsden edition was a piracy and abridgement of an English edition published in 1802 and 1817 by the London publisher of childrenʼs books, John Harris; and the Harris editions were in turn based on editions (ca. 1773–99) published by the firm of John Newbery (Blamires, “From Madame dʼAulnoy to Mother Bunch”, 75; and see , 72 [nos. 470–71).
- Christmas | Tales | For the Instruction | of |
Good Boys and Girls, | by | Mr. Solomon Sobersides. | Embellished with Engravings |
Glasgow. | Published by J. Lumsden & Son. | & Sold by Stoddart & Craggs. Hull | Price Sixpence
- Discussion: The copy is consistent with a bibliographical description in
Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, 44 (no. 57), which cites a watermark date of 1814.
As pointed out in the “Introductory Essay” on the copy in the Hockliffe Archive, the tales have no connection with Christmas, despite the anthologyʼs title, which presumably was a marketing ploy. The text, which in some copies includes a description of the Seven Wonders of the World, was apparently based on a collection first published in London, ca. 1780 (“Stories before 1850. 0220: Anon. [‘Solomon Sobersides’], Christmas Tales”).
The first story in the collection opens with commentary on the neglect of religion and morality in childhood education, but the stories in themselves do little to redress this supposed failing. The collection is miscellaneous, some tales teaching prudent and moral conduct, some adopting an oriental flavor, and only a few entailing magic or fairies. Two of the latter sort feature dervises (i.e., dervishes), who reward hospitality with magical riches, but retract the reward and punish characters who overstep boundaries owing to greed or excess curiosity.
The frontispiece contains an emblem of a child choosing between folly and wisdom, which may have contributed to Ruskinʼs own use of visual emblems, such as “Heights of Wisdom, Depth of Fools” [Miscellaneous Drawing, MS I].
- Discussion: The copy is consistent with a bibliographical description in Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, 44 (no. 57), which cites a watermark date of 1814.
- A | Selection of Stories; | containing the history | of the | Two Sisters, | The Fisherman, |
The King and Fairy Ring, | and | Honesty Rewarded. | Embellished with copperplates. | Glasgow, |
Published and sold by J. Lumsden & Son. | Price Sixpence.
- Discussion: The copy is consistent with a bibliographical description in
Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, 78–79 (no. 118), which cites watermarks of 1814 and 1816.
The collection consists of moral tales enjoining contentment with oneʼs lot, prudence, and trust in Godʼs providence. (Roscoe and Brimmell remark that “The Two Sisters” is not the story of that title by Mrs. Sherwood.) Only “The King and Fairy Ring” qualifies as a fairy story.
- Discussion: The copy is consistent with a bibliographical description in Roscoe and Brimmell, James Lumsden and Son of Glasgow, 78–79 (no. 118), which cites watermarks of 1814 and 1816.
- [The Widow of Roseneath etc.] [description of binding to come; eight separately titled published items bound together].
- Provenance: Sharp. Viljoen. Bookplate of John Ruskin, type 2 (Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, xcv–xcvi).
- Location: Beinecke Library, New Haven, Conn.; call no.: 2000 1641.
- Documentation and discussion: For the eight items in the binding, see Dearden, Library of John Ruskin,
respectively 14 [no. 77], 12 [no. 67], 13 [no, 70], 13 [no. 69], 227 [no. 1775], 345 [no. 2736], 315 [no 2475], 23 [no. 151].
The responsibility for binding these items together is unknown. A rationale, if not the specific occasion for the collection
can be inferred, however, if the binding of these eight items was made in concert with the binding of Fairy Tales.
As compared with the latter, the items collected here share an emphasis on “cautionary” tales (to draw on the subtitle of The Cowslip).
Since the early nineteenth century, such Romantic writers as Charles Lamb, S. T. Coleridge, and William Wordsworth
had polemically argued in favor of appealing to childrenʼs imagination with fairy tales as opposed to training their reason and morals
with “instructive” and “cautionary” tales and dialogues by the “cursed Barbauld Crew”, as Lamb anathematized this group largely of women writers.
In our time, critics have exposed the politics underpinning these divisions, but in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century,
which was probably when a number of Ruskinʼs childhood books were divided between these two collections, the reputation of
Anna Letitia Barbauld had been disassociated from her politics and reduced to bland high‐mindedness—a “valuation”
of this writing that suggests, as William McCarthy complains, “that it entirely lacked humor, irony, or wit”
(McCarthy, “‘A High‐Minded Christian Lady’”, 179; and see
Clarke, “‘The Cursed Barbauld Crew’”, 91–93).
Such a valuation was perhaps implicitly placed on these eight items by binding them together.
The reductive valuation would not have been Ruskinʼs, but it seems unlikely that he could have been responsible for binding this collection since, as noted in the following descritions, he annotated some of the items separately, bequeathing them to Joan Severn and her children. One of the annotations is dated “1889”, and another “1889–1890”, clues that the binding was ordered after 1890 by someone other than Ruskin—perhaps by Joan Severn—since by that time, Ruskin himself would not have been in a mental state to take such an initiative.
- The | Widow of Roseneath; | A | Lesson of Piety: | Affectionately |
Dedicated to the Young. | Glasgow: | Printed for Chalmers & Collins; | Waugh & Innes,
W. Oliphant, and W. Whyte & Co. Edinburgh; | R. M. Tims, Dublin; | J. Nisbet, W. Whittemore,
and F. Westley, London. | 1822.|
- Discussion: The tale relates the fate of a Scottish widow who, reduced in circumstances by the death of her husband,
must part with her two sons. One son emigrates to America and prospers, and the other son resorts to crime.
As “A Lesson of Piety Affectionately Dedicated to the Young”, the tale may well have been acquired
to help John contemplate the consequences of the death of his Uncle Patrick in Perth, Scotland, in 1824,
and its effect on his Aunt Jessie and his cousins.
The Ruskins regularly traveled to Perth, until Johnʼs Aunt Jessie died in 1828. By the time of her death, Jessie had lost six of her ten children, two of whom were especially dear as companions to Ruskin in his childhood—James, who lived with the Ruskins at Herne Hill after his fatherʼs death, and who himself died in 1826; and Jessie, who died in 1827. The four surviving children—three sons and the daughter, Mary, who lived with the Ruskins until her marriage—were generously supported by John James. Just so, in The Widow of Roseneath, the successful son is supported in America by his uncle, a kindly and prudent merchant. The book might even have been shared between John and his cousins living at Herne Hill who depended on John Jamesʼs charity. For a plot summary of the tale and brief commentary from an 1823 review, see Anonymous, The Widow of Roseneath (1822).
At a later time, Ruskin wrote on the frontispiece and title page: “New and Old mine my beloved Joanna and her children. SABRINA”. He refers to his cousin Joan Agnew Severn and her children. Sabrina was . . .
- Discussion: The tale relates the fate of a Scottish widow who, reduced in circumstances by the death of her husband, must part with her two sons. One son emigrates to America and prospers, and the other son resorts to crime. As “A Lesson of Piety Affectionately Dedicated to the Young”, the tale may well have been acquired to help John contemplate the consequences of the death of his Uncle Patrick in Perth, Scotland, in 1824, and its effect on his Aunt Jessie and his cousins.
- Sketches | of | the | History | of Mr | Josiah Rumbold | and | His Family. | Intended for the Benefit of | Sabbath Evening School. | Founded on Facts. | Second Edition. | Edinburgh: | Printed by William Aitchison, | for A. Johnstone, Gran‐Market; | and Sold by M. Ogle, Glasgow; and W. Whittimore, 62, | Paternoster Row, London. | 1820.
- Nicol Gray: | or, | Scenes in the Country. | A Tale | for the Cottarʼs Ingle Neuk. |
“Let not ambition mock their useful toil, | Their homely joys and destiny obscure; | Nor grandeur hear with a
disdainful smile, | The short and simple annals of the poor.” | Edinburgh: | Printed for Alexander Johnstone, |
West Bow; | Chalmers and Collins, and Lang, Glasgow; |and Whittemore, London. | 1823.
- The tale contains Scottish dialect. In periodicals, the work is found among listings of Sabbath School “reward books for young persons” by Waugh & Innes, where attributed to the “author of ‘Jacob Newman’”. The author was also responsible for The Run‐away; or, I Would Be a Sailor: A Narrative.
- Memoir | of | An Old Soldier. | Written | for the Instruction of Youth. | Edinburgh: | Printed for Alexander Johnstone, | West Bow; | Ogle, Chalmers and Collins, and Lang, | Glasgow; and Whittemore, London. | 1823.
- Active Goodness | Beautifully Exemplified, | in the |
Life and Labours | of the || Rev. Thomas Gouge, A.M. | By a Minister of the Church of Scotland.
| Glasgow: | Printed for Chalmers & Collins; |
Waugh & Innes, William Oliphant, and W. Whyte & Co. |
Edinburgh; | R. M. Tims, Dublin; | J. Nisbet, W. Whittemore, J. Offer, and F. Westley, London. | 1822.
- Discussion: The author is identified as the Rev. Robert Burns (1789–1869), Minister of St. Georgeʼs, Paisley, in the second edition (1825), and in Burns, Life and Times of the Rev. Robert Burns by the Rev. R. F. Burns, 120. Thomas Gouge (1605–81) was an English clergyman who, although ejected from his living for nonconformist sympathies, continued to preach and was revered for his “active goodness”—his extensive good works of practical Christianity. His collected works were published in Kilmarnock in 1815.
- The | Cowslip; | or, | More Cautionary Stories, | in Verse. | by the Author of that Much‐Admired |
Little Work Entitled | the Daisy. | the Seventh Edition. | London: | Printed for J. Harris and Son, |
Corner of St. Paulʼs Church‐Yard; and Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, | Paternoster‐Row. | 1820.
- Discussion: The author is Elizabeth Turner (1775–1846); Ruskinʼs copy matches the bibliographical description in
Moon, John Harrisʼs Books for Youth, 129 (no. 932 ).
The “more cautionary stories” constituting The Cowslip were first published by Harris in 1811, following the
“cautionary stories in verse adapted to the ideas of children from four to eight years old” constituting
The Daisy, first published in 1807. The Daisy was originally “illustrated with thirty engravings on copper‐plate”,
but The Cowslip was illustrated with thirty woodcuts, which formed headpieces to the poems
(Moon, John Harrisʼs Books for Youth, 129 [nos. 933 (1), 932 (1)]).
In Ruskinʼs copy, the signature was written by his father, as Ruskin notes in a later hand, perhaps because he was too young to have signed the copy for himself when first presented with the book. The primitiveness of drawings scattered throughout the book suggest a very early age. In a later hand, it appears that Ruskin re‐dedicated the book to “My Joanna, and her children” on “New Years Day. 1889”. Later, he wrote “Deeper and deeper still. / 2nd April 1889–1890”; also a date, “1822” underlined, and the comment, “Now in Heaven”.
- Discussion: The author is Elizabeth Turner (1775–1846); Ruskinʼs copy matches the bibliographical description in Moon, John Harrisʼs Books for Youth, 129 (no. 932 ). The “more cautionary stories” constituting The Cowslip were first published by Harris in 1811, following the “cautionary stories in verse adapted to the ideas of children from four to eight years old” constituting The Daisy, first published in 1807. The Daisy was originally “illustrated with thirty engravings on copper‐plate”, but The Cowslip was illustrated with thirty woodcuts, which formed headpieces to the poems (Moon, John Harrisʼs Books for Youth, 129 [nos. 933 (1), 932 (1)]).
- A | Drive in the Coach | through the | Streets of London. |
A Story founded on Fact. | By Mrs. Sherwood, | Author of “Little Henry and his Bearer,” &c. &c. | |
Seventh Edition. | Wellington, Salop: | printed by and for F. Houlston and Son. |
And sold by | Scatcherd and Letterman, Ave‐Maria Lane, London. | 1822. | [Entered at Stationerʼs Hall.]
- During a drive through London with her mother, a “self‐pleasing” girl is allowed to write down what she would like to buy at each shop they pass. When they encounter a coffin‐makerʼs establishment, representing the end of all worldly pleasures, the girl of course balks at adding that item to her list. Her mother instead buys the girl a bible, so she can learn to contemplate death without fear.
- Hymns in Prose | for | Children. | by the Author of | Lessons for Children. |
Twenty‐Second Edition, | Much Enlarged. | I will praise God with my voice, though I am | but a little child. |
London: | Printed for Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, | Paternoster‐Row; | and R. Hunter, Successor to J. Johnson, |
St Paulʼs Church‐Yard. | 1821.
- By Anna Letitia Barbauld.
- Evenings at Home; | or the | Juvenile Budget Opened. |
consisting of | a Variety of Miscellaneous Pieces | for the | Instruction and Amusement | of | Young Persons |
by Dr. Aikin and Mrs. Barbauld |
London | Printed and Published by J. F. Dove, St. Johnʼs Square.
- Discussion: See Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, 8 (no. 34).
It is not clear that this copy was used by Ruskin in boyhood, although the collector who obtained it, F. J. Sharp, appears to have assumed that was the case
(see the exhibition catalogue, Ruskinʼs Backgrounds, Friendships, and Interests, as Reflected in the F. J. Sharp Collection, 8 [5.f]; see also
Lightman, “‘No Man Could Owe More’”, 260–61, 264).
While the copy has a Brantwood bookplate—type 2, a type that Ruskin himself never used, as Dearden explains (Library of John Ruskin, xcvi–xcvii)—and while the copy contains
a holograph note in Ruskinʼs mature hand, this is a single‐volume edition of Evenings at Home (vi+479 pp.), whereas the edition that Ruskin preserved as his boyhood copy was divided into six volumes.
That number of volumes is documented by Ruskin in a 4 February 1885 letter to Simpson & Co., arranging to rebind three of the volumes remaining from his boyhood set,
emphasizing that his youthful markings were to be retained, and to number the volumes 1, 2, and 3, since he had “lost the rest” of the volumes (quoted in Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, 8 [no. 34]).
The remaining volumes sent for binding would have been the original volumes 1, 2, and 5, with volumes 3, 4, and 6 gone missing,
according to details in an 1868 partial catalogue of Ruskinʼs books, as cited by Dearden. On this evidence,
Dearden suggests that, since the Sharp/Viljoen copy at the Beinecke Library “is not bound in the style specified in the letter to Simpson & Co.”, this volume
“may be one of the volumes which Ruskin mentioned he had lost” (Library of John Ruskin, 8 [no. 34], and see cviii–cxii).
This possibility is ruled out, however, since the Sharp/Viljoen copy, which is a six‐volumes‐in‐one edition, complete in itself, cannot have formed a part of Ruskinʼs original set.
Dearden gives 1792 as the year of publication for the Sharp/Viljoen copy, but this date is not supported by the title page, which is undated. Its publication by J. F. Dove places it, rather, as a reprint in a series conceived by John Fowler Dove (1787–1866), St. Johnʼs Square, Clerkenwell, London. Starting in the first half of the 1820s, Doveʼs printing house issued the “Doveʼs English Classics” series, which played a part in the early history of books illustrated by steel engraving, which contributed to the success of annuals and gift books (see Annuals and Other Illustrated Books: Collected Editions). At first, Dove produced these reprints as “Printed for the Proprietors of the English Classics by J. F. Dove”—the “proprietors” being comprised of a long list of publishers, including Smith, Elder & Co. from the time when the company was located on Fenchurch Street. Two books in this series held an important place in Ruskinʼs boyhood library, his 1824 copy of Popeʼs translation of the Iliad, and his 1825 copy of Drydenʼs translation of the Aeneid and other works. According to WorldCat, in 1827 Dove published Evenings at Home as a volume in this series, with a frontispiece and title page engraved by Charles Heath (1785–1848) after a drawing by Henry Corbould (1787–1844), and with the series title “English Classics” on the “cover”. (As inclusive evidence supporting a publication date of 1827, an advertisement for the “English Classics”, which is undated but included with the Google Books reproduction of an 1825 Dove reprint of Waltonʼs Complete Angler, Evenings at Home is not included in the lists of titles either “Now Ready” or “In the Press”. The “Ready” list does include the 1824 Popeʼs Iliad and 1825 Drydenʼs Virgil.) While the WorldCat description does not make clear whether this 1827 publication was printed for the “proprietors” of the series, the details do not match the Sharp/Viljoen copy, which lacks a publication date as well as the series title, “English Classics”, on the title page. Instead, the Sharp/Viljoen copy identifies itself as “Printed and Published by J. F. Dove, St. Johnʼs Square”.
According to Laurence Worms, this imprint, “Printed and Published by J. F. Dove”, took the place of the “Printed for the Proprietors of English Classics” “within a couple of years” of the mid‐1820s series but no later than 1833 when Dove retired (Worms, “Doveʼs English Classics”, accessed 27 March 2022). Perhaps the “Published and Printed” imprint—accompanied by a device of a dove bearing an olive branch, and the motto “perseverantia et amicis [perseverance and friendship]”—represented an advance beyond acting only as a printer for large shareholding publisher groups. In any case, even if the Sharp/Viljoen copy were the 1827 “English Classics” version of Evenings at Home, and not a later edition under Doveʼs house imprint, a publication date of 1827 is in itself too late for a book assumed to have served as Ruskinʼs foundational boyhood reading, preceding his study of Edgeworthʼs Frank and Harry and Lucy Concluded. As Naomi Lightman comments, “as Ruskinʼs copy has no date, we cannot know when it was purchased” (“‘No Man Could Owe More’”, 264); however, an edition published after 1827—as the undated edition presumably was, if not presented as a volume in the “English Classics” series—would have postdated Ruskinʼs writing that Barbauld most directly inspired, such as “The Needless Alarm” and “Harry and Lucy . . . Vol I”, which date from 1826.
In an analysis of the publishing history of Evenings at Home, Aileen Fyfe explains that, from 1792 until 1823, the text of the first edition was controlled by the first publisher, Joseph Johnson, his successor Rowland Hunter, and other publishers to whom Hunter sold shares. In 1823, to maintain copyright, the shareholders solicited a corrected and slightly expanded edition from John Aikinʼs son, Arthur Aikin, which was published as the thirteenth edition, apparently in six volumes; and in 1826, an edition rearranged by John Aikinʼs daughter, Lucy Aikin, was published in four volumes. Despite these new editions descending from the original, “from the mid‐1820s”, Fyfe notes, “any publisher could print the original text of Evenings at Home, and a number did so”, including provincial and Scottish publishers (Fyfe, “Copyrights and Competition”, 40). If Dove waited until 1827 to reprint Evenings, even in its original text, he already lagged behind some other publishers.
The Ruskins would have entered the market for Johnʼs initial copy of Evenings at Home during the transitional period in the bookʼs publishing history, between the early‐ and mid‐1820s, when the Aikins were revising the text in order to extend copyright, and when other publishers were issuing reprints of the first edition. At this point, the Ruskins would likely have acquired either the new edition of 1823 or afterward, whose shareholder publishers included (since 1815) Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, who also published the Ruskinsʼ editions of Maria Edgeworthʼs “Early Lessons” series; or they would have purchased a first‐edition reprint available from non‐shareholder publishers. At that time, those non‐shareholder reprints would not have included Doveʼs, since available evidence shows him coming late to the game. Consequently, putting aside the Sharp/Viljoen Dove edition—undated, but probably after 1827—we cannot determine what state of the text of Evenings at Home was availble to Ruskin in his boyhood six‐volume version, whether the revised edition by Arthur Aikin or the original descended from the Johnson/Hunter shareholders (or even as originally published by Johnson/Hunter). A good bet may be the revised text of 1823, since the shareholders carrying that text, including Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy,produced substantial print runs that sold well (see Fyfe, “Copyrights and Competition”, 43); and the Ruskins were familiar with Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy from their purchase of Edgeworthʼs Frank and Harry and Lucy Concluded. Definitive evidence, however, must await recovery of Ruskinʼs three stray volumes, as rebound by Simpson.
As for the Sharp/Viljoen copy, since it contains annotations by Ruskin from later years, a logical conclusion may be that he acquired this Dove edition at some point to replace the lost volumes of his boyhood set, at or before the time of sending the surviving copies for rebinding; or, if the Dove reprint was a more youthful acquisition, it should be treated as an additional household copy, circa 1830. While the front endpaper contains illegible scrawls, one of which Viljoen was tempted to make out to be the letter J and interpret as Ruskinʼs earliest signature, all the legible marginalia is in Ruskinʼs mature hand. The back endpaper has the note: “p 315. Earth & Stones — 331”, referring to pages comprising the twenty‐first evening, which is connected with mineralogy. That chapter is heavily marked in ink throughout, especially the passages on siliceous minerals.
- Discussion: See Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, 8 (no. 34). It is not clear that this copy was used by Ruskin in boyhood, although the collector who obtained it, F. J. Sharp, appears to have assumed that was the case (see the exhibition catalogue, Ruskinʼs Backgrounds, Friendships, and Interests, as Reflected in the F. J. Sharp Collection, 8 [5.f]; see also Lightman, “‘No Man Could Owe More’”, 260–61, 264). While the copy has a Brantwood bookplate—type 2, a type that Ruskin himself never used, as Dearden explains (Library of John Ruskin, xcvi–xcvii)—and while the copy contains a holograph note in Ruskinʼs mature hand, this is a single‐volume edition of Evenings at Home (vi+479 pp.), whereas the edition that Ruskin preserved as his boyhood copy was divided into six volumes. That number of volumes is documented by Ruskin in a 4 February 1885 letter to Simpson & Co., arranging to rebind three of the volumes remaining from his boyhood set, emphasizing that his youthful markings were to be retained, and to number the volumes 1, 2, and 3, since he had “lost the rest” of the volumes (quoted in Dearden, Library of John Ruskin, 8 [no. 34]). The remaining volumes sent for binding would have been the original volumes 1, 2, and 5, with volumes 3, 4, and 6 gone missing, according to details in an 1868 partial catalogue of Ruskinʼs books, as cited by Dearden. On this evidence, Dearden suggests that, since the Sharp/Viljoen copy at the Beinecke Library “is not bound in the style specified in the letter to Simpson & Co.”, this volume “may be one of the volumes which Ruskin mentioned he had lost” (Library of John Ruskin, 8 [no. 34], and see cviii–cxii). This possibility is ruled out, however, since the Sharp/Viljoen copy, which is a six‐volumes‐in‐one edition, complete in itself, cannot have formed a part of Ruskinʼs original set.
- Children in the Wood; Sinbad the Sailor: In 1823, to mollify John during an illness, Margaret Ruskin was “obliged to buy I donʼt know how many books”. Worried that John James might duplicate a purchase, she recommended he bring home these traditional tales (Margaret to John James Ruskin, 11 March 1823, Burd, ed., Ruskin Family Letters, 126–27 and see 127l no. 1).
- [More to come]