Ruskin’s 200th Birthday to be Celebrated in East Aurora this Fall

by Kate Nixon


John Ruskin circa 1863. Photo courtesy of W. & D. Downey [Public domain] and Wikimedia Commons.

A celebration of the life of philosopher and Arts and Crafts pioneer John Ruskin comes to East Aurora, NY this fall – and you can be a part of the celebration! In observance of John Ruskin’s 200th anniversary of his birthday, the Guild of St. George and the Roycroft Print Shop are co-sponsoring a free two-day celebration on September 13th – 14th where attendees can attend lectures on John Ruskin and interact with Ruskin scholars and enthusiasts.

The celebration will begin at the Roycroft Campus Visitor Center (at 39 South Grove Street, East Aurora, NY 14052) on September 13th – 14th and is free to attend, but attendees must register. Attendees – both new and experienced on Ruskin – can expect to get the comprehensive experience of who Ruskin was, what he contributed to the Arts and Crafts Movement and how to continue his legacy.

“He spent most of his life, which spanned almost the whole 19th century, writing, teaching, and doing things that would first establish the movement and then see that its important messages would survive and grow in the future,” according to a letter from the Roycroft Print Shop. “These were the messages of the beauty and appreciation of nature and art, human understanding, social awareness and peace. It was a lot for one man, but he took on the job and helped set the stage for the Arts and Crafts Movement of today.”

Festivities begin on friday evening September 13th at 6:30 P.M. with a light reception, followed by a keynote address, delivered by Dr. James Spates. National Arts and Crafts Conference attendees may remember Spates from this year’s past conference and his “From Ruskin to Roycroft: How John Ruskin Created the Arts and Crafts Movement” seminar. Afterwards, Dr. Spates will answer questions from the audience.


Dr. James Spates (pictured during his seminar at the 2019 National Arts and Crafts Conference) comes to East Aurora to deliver a keynote address for the 200th Anniversary of James Ruskin’s birthday. Photo credit: Ray Stubblebine.


Saturday will have a full day of lectures and a panel discussion at the end. Starting at 9:00 A.M. Peter Potter, a Roycroft Renaissance Artisan in Photography, will introduce attendees to “Photgraphy in the Arts and Crafts Era”. Afterwards, Paul Dawson, a very active member of the Guild of St. George in the UK will give a unique lecture and show the pioneering work of Ruskin’s personal publisher George Allen, Kelmscott Press creator William Morris, and their important contributions to the Private Press Movement. Professor Kay Walter will reveal how she is teaching and promoting the work of John Ruskin in the rural south in “Teaching Ruskin and the Pre-Raphaelites in Rural Arkansas.” Afterwards, a tour of the Roycroft Print Shop will be given by Superintendent and Head Printer Joe Weber. The day wraps up with a panel discussion involving all lecturers and open to all attendees, “John Ruskin, William Morris, Elbert Hubbard and the Arts and Crafts Movement of Today.”


Lecturer Paul Dawson will give a unique presentation on Kelmscott Press, William Morris, Ruskin’s publisher George Allen and their contribution to the Private Press Movement. Pictured above: A picture of “The Nature of Gothic” from John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice, printed through Kelmscott Press. Photo credit: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons.



The Roycroft Print Shop will offer a tour from head printer Joe Weber during the 200th birthday celebration of John Ruskin weekend. Photo credit: Eric Jahn.


In order to register for the free events of the 200th Birthday celebration of John Ruskin, you can do so in two ways:

You can call (716) 652-8272 or (570) 590-4787 to register over the phone OR if you received a packet already, return the enclosed reply card to Joseph Weber.


Recommended accommodation includes The Roycroft Inn (716-652-5552) and the Hampton Inn (844-384-1675)