John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) British social critic and writer.

John Ruskin social critic featured image
John Ruskin social critic featured image

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900) was a British social critic and writer.

His influential books The Seven Lamps of Architecture (1849) and The Stones of Venice (1851—53) show his interest in architecture, particularly the Gothic style. His writings provided the primary inspiration for the Arts and Crafts movement. He persuaded William Morris and other Arts and Crafts movement followers to abandon industry for aesthetic and social reasons. He despised machine-made items such as railway trains, cut glass, iron, and materials devoid of handmade ‘truth.’

Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort.

John Ruskin

He chastised the ‘fatal newness’ of veneered rosewood furniture, for example, and equated the beauty of mediaeval craftsmanship and architecture with the joy and artisanal dignity he associated with their creation. Though an ardent historicist, his ideas influenced 20th-century design; he foreshadowed some of Modernism’s fundamental tenets, particularly by arguing that the forms of things must be faithful to their construction’s nature and materials.


Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Books about John Ruskin

Chatterjee, A. (2017). John Ruskin and the Fabric of Architecture. United States: Taylor & Francis.

Collingwood, W. (2018). The Life of John Ruskin. (n.p.): Outlook Verlag.

Cook, E. T. (2010). The Life of John Ruskin: Volume 2, 1860-1900. United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

Dearden, J. S. (1999). John Ruskin: A Life in Pictures. United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Academic.

Hilton, T. (2002). John Ruskin. United Kingdom: Yale University Press.

Ruskin, J., Rosenberg, J. D. (1997). The genius of John Ruskin: selections from his writings. United Kingdom: University Press of Virginia.

The Cambridge Companion to John Ruskin. (2015). United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.

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