The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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George Allen, 1832-1907

Nationality: English
Date of Birth: 1832.03.26
Place of Birth: Newark on Trent
Date of Death: 1907.09.05
Place of Death: Orpington


George Allen, a publisher and engraver, was the son of John and Rebecca Allen. On 25 December 1856 he married Ruskin's mother's maid Anne Eliza Hobbes. They had four sons and four daughters.


Allen was a pupil in Ruskin's drawing class at the Working Men's College in 1854 and declined a post in the Queen's household in order to work for Ruskin as his general assistant. For a few years he acted as an assistant drawing master for him at the college. Encouraged by Ruskin he studied engraving under J. H. Le Keux and mezzotint under Lupton. He later become Ruskin's engraver. Some of his drawings were on display in the Ruskin school at Oxford and his work is sometimes mistaken for Ruskin's own. Allen was also employed to show visitors Ruskin's collection of Turner drawings, and he was later involved with the arrangement of Turner drawings at the National Gallery.

In 1871 Allen became Ruskin's personal publisher. In this capacity he was subpoenaed by James Anderson Rose in the Whistler v Ruskin trial in 1878, but didn't stand. In 1890 he opened a London publishing house at 8 Bell Yard, Chancery Lane, which moved to larger premises at 156 Charing Cross Road in 1894. He was one of the original Companions of Ruskin's Guild of St. George. Like Ruskin he had a keen interest in geology and mineralogy. He collected minerals, as well as watercolours, 'Martin' ware and Ruskiniana. His portrait was painted in 1890 by F. Yates. He did not live to see the final publication of his library edition of Ruskin's works, published 1903-11. His eldest daughter, Grace, and two eldest sons, William and Hugh, continued the business.


Dictionary of National Biography Online, Oxford, 1997 (accessed 2003).