The Ruskin Society Book of The Year. Who was John Ruskin? What did he achieve - and how?Where is he today? One possible answer: almost everywhere. John Ruskin was the Victorian age's best-known and mostcontroversial intellectual.
He was an art critic, a social activist,an early environmentalist; he was also a painter, writer, anda determined tastemaker in the fields of architecture anddesign.
His ideas, which poured from his pen in the secondhalf of the 19th century, sowed the seeds of the modernwelfare state, universal state education and healthcare freeat the point of delivery.
His acute appreciation of naturalbeauty underpinned the National Trust, while his sensitivityto environmental change, decades before it was consideredother than a local phenomenon, fuelled the modern greenmovement.
His violent critique of free market economics,Unto This Last, has a claim to be the most influential politicalpamphlet ever written.
Ruskin laid into the smug championsof Victorian capitalism, prefigured the current debate aboutinequality, executive pay, ethical business and automation. Gandhi is just one of the many whose lives were changedradically by reading Ruskin, and who went on to change theworl. This book, timed to coincide with the 200th anniversary ofJohn Ruskin's birth in 2019, will retrace Ruskin's steps, tellinghis life story and visiting the places and talking to the peoplewho - perhaps unknowingly - were influenced by Ruskinhimself or by his profoundly important ideas. What, if anything, do they know about him? How iswhat they do or think linked to the vivid, difficult butoften prophetic pronouncements he made about the wayour modern world should look, live, work and think?
Asimportant, where - and why - have his ideas been swept awayor displaced, sometimes by buildings, developments andpractices that Ruskin himself would have abhorred?Part travelogue, part quest, part unconventional biography,this book will attempt to map Ruskinland: a place where, twocenturies after John Ruskin's birth, more of us live than weknow.