Shrewsbury school discovers mysterious Ruskin letter

Letter Image copyright None
Image caption The letter is addressed 'to the girls of the Shrewsbury High School'

A letter from Victorian art critic John Ruskin has been discovered in the archives of a girls' school in Shrewsbury.

He had no obvious links to the school or the town, and librarian Alex Hale has appealed for anyone who can shed light on the mystery to contact her.

Dated 1886, it starts "My dear girls…" but is in such a condition that only some words and sentences are legible.

Ruskin was also known as a prominent social thinker and philanthropist.

Image copyright None
Image caption The letter has been pieced together and stuck in place with tape, meaning it is very fragile
Image copyright None
Image caption Only a few words can be seen clearly. The letter begins: 'My dear girls'

The document, which bears his signature, has been displayed at some point over the years, Miss Hale said, as it has been taped together "rather crudely, further complicating the translation process".

Discussions with a conservator from Shropshire Archives are under way, to have the letter deciphered and preserved so that it can be displayed at Shrewsbury High School.

"It is a fascinating document from a historically important figure and it would be wonderful to find out what he had to say in this letter and why he appeared to have such affection for the girls at the school," said Miss Hale.

Image copyright Rotary Photos
Image caption John Ruskin wrote on subjects as varied as architecture, ornithology and political economy

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