John Ruskin was born in London on February 8, 1819, and raised in south London. He was educated at the University of Oxford (Christ Church), where he was awarded a prize for poetry, his earliest interest.
In 1848, Ruskin married Effie Gray. Their marriage was annulled in 1854 on grounds of non-consummation. (She later married the artist John Everett Millais).
Ruskin later fell deeply in love with Rose la Touche. He met her in 1858, when she was only nine years old, proposed to her eight years later, and was finally rejected in 1872.
Ruskin taught at the Working Men's College in London and was the first Slade Professor of Fine Art at Oxford, from 1869 to 1879.
There he became friendly with Lewis Carroll, another don, and was photographed by him. After the parting of Carroll and Alice Liddell, she and her sisters pursued a similar relationship with John Ruskin, as detailed in Ruskin's Praeterita. Ruskin College, Oxford is named after him.
Upon the death of his father (who was a wealthy wine merchant), Ruskin declared that it was not possible to be a rich socialist and gave away most of his inheritance. He was friends with Sir Henry Acland. He founded the charity known as the Guild of St George in the 1870s and endowed it with large sums of money as well as a remarkable collection of art. He also gave the money to enable Octavia Hill to begin her practical campaign of housing reform.
Ruskin spent much of his later life at a house called Brantwood, on the shores of Coniston Water located in the Lake District of England.
John Ruskin died on January 20, 1900.