Spartacus Review

Volume 39: 3rd November, 2009

British Literature

Title: John Ruskin and the Lakeland Arts Revival

Author: Sarah Haslam


Publisher: Merton Priory Press

Price: £14.95

Bookshop: Amazon

Spartacus Website: John Ruskin


Between about 1880 and the end of the First World War there was a widespread and multi-faceted revival in traditional handcrafts in the Lake District. Inspired initially by the teachings of John Ruskin, pioneers such as Albert Fleming, Marian Twelves, and Hardwicke and Edith Rawnsley established workshops in Keswick, Kendal and elsewhere to produce textiles (especially linen and lace), woodwork and metalwork made by hand by local craftsmen and women. Their output found a ready market both locally and nationally and formed the basis of a series of highly successful art exhibitions, notably those at Kendal in 1891 and 1899. The Lakeland arts revival has hitherto been neglected by writers more concerned with national developments in this period, or else wrongly regarded as part of the Arts and Crafts Movement, whereas it developed earlier and independently, springing from essentially local roots. This new study, based on the author's Manchester University Ph.D. thesis, for the first time gives proper weight to the Lakeland revival and rescues a number of important figures from undeserved obscurity.