This first part of the authoritative biography of John Ruskin, the most influential nineteenth-century critic of art, is the fruit of almost twenty years of research and the first to return to the original sources. Drawing on the complete text of Ruskin's diaries and many thousands of unpublished letters and other documents, it casts much new and fascinating light on the background of Ruskin's numerous books. Tim Hilton shows that all Ruskin's writings were formed by the events of his life, his friends, loves, travels and memories. This volume, the first of two, covers the period from 1819 to 1859, and describes his Scottish background, his childhood in middle-class suburban London, his early education in literary and evangelical circles, and the development and refinement of tastes born of that education. His travels on the continent and discovery of French and Italian art and architecture are described in detail and are seen as the background to the five volumes of 'Modern Painters' and such other famous books as 'The Seven Lamps of Architecture' and 'The Stones of Venice'. Incorporating all modern research into Ruskin and his contemporaries, the author gives fresh insight into all Ruskin's publications and elucidates his relations with his parents, his disastrous marriage to Effie Gray, his acquaintance with Turner and his close links with Pre-Raphaelitism. Ruskin is placed amidst a gallery of portraits of family, friends, teachers, artists, writers and political thinkers. Arguing that 'Praeterita', Ruskin's autobiography, gives only a partial view of his life, Tim Hilton shows how the youthful art critic became a significant didactic writer, developing a unique voice that was both alert to his contemporaries and unlike any other nineteenth-century prose, and was to shape his future as the most eloquent and radical of all the great Victorian writers.Tim Hilton's 'John Ruskin: The Later Years' is also available in print.Tim Hilton was born in 1941. He was educated at Aston Technical College, Birmingham, Balliol College, Oxford and the Courtauld Institute of Art. He has written the catalogues of a number of significant exhibitions, including 'Drawings by Miro' (1980), 'Picasso's Picassos' (1982) and 'Anthony Caro' (1984), and has taught both painting and art history in several British art schools. He has been a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement.