Ruskin Library


Ruskin Research



John Ruskin, Of Queens Gardens, designed by George Allen

Ruskin was surrounded by books all his life - reading, buying, writing and producing them. He took an active part in the production of his own books, and worked closely with George Allen his publisher. He was very specific about how each was to look, often designing and engraving his own illustrations. All his books were produced in a very traditional way, incorporating his ideas on quality and craftsmanship. He refused to use the cheaper quicker new technology that was being developed at the time.

In 1450 Johann Guttenberg found a way to mass produce individual letters (‘type’, which is assembled to create a page of text) and adapted a wine press into a printing press. The first books to be printed were the bible and other religious texts. Very few people could read, and the use of books was confined to monastic orders and the upper classes. Printing and binding methods remained virtually unchanged from then until the nineteenth century

The improvement of education for adults and children in the first half of the 19th Century ensured a growing demand for books and other reading material. Changes in technology had a major impact on how books were made, and how much they cost. More people in Victorian Britain could read, they had money to spend on luxury items such as books, and free time to read them.

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture


After discussing the history and making of books, we will make our own simple sewn book, including folding and sewing the pages and making the cover. Good quality materials are provided, and there is a display of books using other materials - fabric, recycled paper,metal etc - that the children can handle and think about using when making other books in the future. T here is a display of book-binding equipment (kindly loaned by Brady Bookbinders), and children will see how this relates to the books they are making. The photographs below show the workshop in progress and some finished results.

Busy hands Finished books Threading needles


School Visits Drawing Workshop Book
John Ruskin Booking a Visit




Opening times:
Gallery: -
Monday-Friday 10am-4pm - during Exhibitions (closed weekends and Bank Holidays)
Reading Room: - Monday-Friday 10am-4pm - (by appointment only)

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