This passage appears in Housman's autobiography, The Unexpected Years, where he discusses his time at Art School at Kensington. — George P. Landow.

n the library I had begun reading Ruskin, and for a time was carried off my feet by the strange beauty of his winged eloquence. Later I came to value chiefly not his writings on art, but his political economy. But for a short while he shared with Blake (whom he did not sufficiently appreciate) my devout admiration. One day I was at work in the Antique Room, and was dimly aware that Sparkes had gone through into the Life-class, accompanied by a visitor. A while later, a fellow-student said to me Did you see who went through with Sparkes just now? It was Ruskin; but they had come and gone. I rushed out hoping to catch sight of that prophet of the Lord; but I was too late, and my lamentation went up to Heaven Why had Fate let me be in the same room with Ruskin, but not to set eyes on him?

I have not as a rule been anxious to meet famous men; even to Meredith, in the days of his deafness, I avoided introduction and my one meeting with Whistler was a nightmare. But for Ruskin I had a singularly personal affection; and when a year ago I stood for the first time by his grave, it all came back to me, and I felt that, in some strange way, Ruskin (though I had departed from much of his teaching) was my spiritual father. [125-26]


Housman, Laurence. The Unexpected Years. London: Jonathan Cape, 1936.

Last modified 17 November 2012