RUSKIN, John. 7 autograph letters signed ("Cat", "Valentine", "J Ruskin", "JR") to "Susie", Coniston, Lancashire, 12 February 1879 to 6 October 1884, and three n.d. Together 13 pages, 8vo . [With:] A letter which accompanied the Ruskin letters when t...
Estimate: US$2,000 - US$3,000
Price realised: US$6,462
RUSKIN, John. 7 autograph letters signed ("Cat", "Valentine", "J Ruskin", "JR") to "Susie", Coniston, Lancashire, 12 February 1879 to 6 October 1884, and three n.d. Together 13 pages, 8vo . [With:] A letter which accompanied the Ruskin letters when they were sent to Mrs. Lyttleton in 1909. Provenance : purchased from Seven Gables Bookshop, New York, 14 February 1973. WARM LETTERS TO SUSIE: THE PRIVATE SIDE OF JOHN RUSKIN A series of very personal and endearing letters sent by Ruskin to a recipient known only as "Susie." Ruskin, perhaps the greatest Victorian critic of art and society, published numerous works on a variety of topics and had an impact upon both the artistic and literary worlds. His success in the public world, however, was unmatched in his private life where he struggled with painful relationships that left lasting scars. His marriage to Euphemia Chalmers Gray was annulled in 1854 on the grounds of non-consummation and his deep love for Rose La Touche, which began in 1858 when she was only ten, went unfulfilled as she slowly sank into a world of insanity, dying at the tender age of 27. Now, only four years after her death, as Ruskin battled with his own bouts of insanity, he begins a warm correspondance with a woman who he addresses as "My Darling Susie." On February 12th, 1879, Ruskin notes that his cousin and heir Joanna Severn is away and that he is "getting the house into such beautiful bachelor order!" He invites Susie for a visit as she has not "seen Brantwood yet under my management." Ruskin makes a small drawing on the corner of the page and writes that Joanie "likes all her music like this! I can't draw it jaggy enough!" and jokingly comments "I wanted to put it all into the waste paper basket and buy her some beautiful classical Bach...she wouldn't hear of it!" Ruskin closes the letter "your lovingest Cat." In July of 1880, Ruskin tells Susie "I'm going to order the carriage for three oclock on Monday...and I'm coming to run away with you" because there is "so much here for you to see." He writes: "I lay awake at night and thought some. I was going to say things that Susie would like - but I'm not quite sure." On St. Valentine's Day in 1881, Ruskin apologizes for his inability to see Susie as "weather and work, both tyrannic, oppressed me." Closing the letter as "Valentine", he graces her with a brief verse: "The eyes will brighten as the snowdrops do. When the sun comes at last. And you can sit by the Wayside as well as the Fireside, cannot you?" On October 6, 1884, in a year in which he frequently experienced mental turmoil, Ruskin writes: "I'm much better today, only I'm afraid its too soon better and will come on again!" Noting that he is concerned about a visit to the dentist, he adds: "Perhaps the Dentist has been on my mind - as far as I've got any mind, but I haven't much." On another date, Ruskin complains that he "must not at present use either sight or brain one second beyond necessity. The Scott article draws on me too much." In a more amusing letter, he thanks Susie for the oysters but complains: "they are a cause of separation between us. I go all day in the strength of that meal - and dig, and build, and pull down, and plant, and pull up, and order everybody about." Ruskin also makes some social commentaries, noting that he is in Berwick and that he believes "the authorities are all Vulgar, go on being wrong." In the late 1880s, Ruskin's mental condition grew steadily worse and he slowly retreated from the public eye. He died in 1900. (7)
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