Ruskin Library

The Ruskin Library at Lancaster University houses the largest single collection of books, manuscripts, drawings, prints, photographs and ephemera relating to John Ruskin and his circle.

The core holding is the Whitehouse Collection, begun by the educationalist John Howard Whitehouse (1873-1955) while Secretary of the Ruskin Society of Birmingham, in which capacity he visited Brantwood to present a loyal address on the occasion of Ruskin's 80th birthday in 1899. Over the next fifty years, Whitehouse assembled a collection unrivalled in its scope, including more than 1,000 drawings by Ruskin, 29 volumes of his diaries, and over 8,000 manuscripts (including some 3,000 letters, mostly unpublished, to his cousin Joan Severn, née Agnew).

Education Trust Ltd, established before Whitehouse's death, continued to add to the collection, concentrating especially on completing the holdings of books by Ruskin (in all meaningful editions) and about Ruskin and his contemporaries, as well as on books from Ruskin's library and other associational material. These were housed at Bembridge School on the Isle of Wight, which had been founded by Whitehouse. When the school closed in 1996, the collection was brought to Lancaster under the aegis of the Ruskin Foundation, which now administers it through staff appointed by Lancaster University.

A new building, designed by Sir Richard MacCormac and made possible through the Heritage Lottery Fund, opened in April 1998. It has a gallery space (open daily), with changing displays, and a Reading Room which is open by appointment. Further details and access to the electronic catalogue may be found on the Ruskin Library website: