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George Allen
Dates: British, 1826 - 1907
Biographical Account:

George Allen was originally a wood-worker and draughtsman but later played an important role in John Ruskin’s life. His wife was Mrs Ruskin’s maid and Ruskin, taking an interest in him sent him to study etching. He also joined Ruskin’s drawing classes at the Working Men’s College in London.


By 1858, Allen had become Ruskin’s assistant. He helped him catalogue the massive collection of work that JMW Turner had left Britain after his death. After this, Allen became both a private engraver for Ruskin’s books and at times his secretary. Allen and his family were expected to travel round Europe on Ruskin’s long journeys.


While Ruskin seemed always to treat Allen as one of his servants, in 1871 he became Ruskin’s publisher and from this gained more respect from him. Allen did not just publish Ruskin’s later books, but became a wide ranging publisher. This firm became ‘George Allen and Unwin’ in 1914, a company that is still running today.


Works by Allen’s son Hugh and granddaughter Daphne are also in the collection.

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