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John Ruskin and Rose La Touche

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October 20, 2016

John Ruskin and Rose La Touche

Years after John Ruskin’s marriage to Effie Gray collapsed due to his lack of sexual attraction for her (and despite her being regarded as one of the most beautiful women of her day), Ruskin met a nine-year old girl named Rose La Touche. He was 40. But wait. Don’t jump to too many conclusions. Well, maybe you can jump to one or two.

The attraction was not, they say, ahem, entirely one way. But the two maintained a close, probably Platonic relationship, at least in the Victorian style. But La Touche turned Ruskin’s marriage proposal down when she was eighteen.

The sticking point was her staunchly pious Evangelical faith that Ruskin could not embrace. Rose La Touche died at age 25 after bouts of mental illness.

So John Ruskin’s personal life—what a guy, by the way—was fraught with tumult which no doubt contributed to his own numerous breakdowns. How his problems affected him he speculated upon in his autobiography:

“I wonder mightily what sort of creature I should have turned out, if instead of the distracting and useless pain, I had had the joy of approved love, and the untellable, incalculable motive of its sympathy and praise. It seems to me such things are not allowed in the world. The men capable of the highest imaginative passion are always tossed on fiery waves by it.”

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Paul Varner


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