John Ruskin, without doubt Herne Hill’s most famous resident, was born 200 years ago and this year has witnessed events, exhibitions, talks and books to celebrate and reassess his life and his actions, as probably the most globally-known and influential public intellectual of the Victorian era.
He was not just an art critic and champion of Turner: his powerful criticisms of many of the damaging consequences of rapid industrialisation, abandonment of tradition, neglect of the natural environment, and inhuman living conditions heralded social changes in the 19th century, and remain relevant in the 21st.
He lived in Herne Hill from his earliest years. The leafy garden of his parents’ house on Herne Hill, just a few hundred yards up the slope from Fawnbrake Avenue, made a huge impact on his awareness and love of nature. He kept a house here as his London base and visited frequently after he had retired to the Lake District. (The Ruskins’ houses, though, are long gone.)
On Wednesday 12 June, Jon Newman, author and Lambeth archivist, will give a lecture looking at why Ruskin is still relevant today.
This important event, which is this year’s Thomas Lynn Bristowe Memorial Lecture, is hosted by the Herne Hill Society and Brockwell Park Community Partners. It will be in the Herne Hill Baptist Church on Half Moon Lane at 7:45 PM on Wednesday 12 June – everyone welcome, free of charge.