William Gershom Collingwood (1854-1932)

Scope and Content

Son of William Collingwood, husband of Edith Mary Dorothy Collingwood (née Isaac), father of Robin, Dora, Ursula and Barbara Collingwood.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Gershom Collingwood was born in Liverpool in 1854, the eldest son of artist William Collingwood and Marie Imhoff, his Swiss wife. He started painting and sketching in his childhood, being taken by his father to paint in the Lake District, Wales, and Switzerland. He studied at University College, Oxford where he met John Ruskin. He would go on to become one of Ruskin's closest confidants, personal secretary, and first biographer. In 1883 he married Edith Mary (Dorrie) Isaac and they moved to the Lake District, first to Gill Head near Windermere and later to Lanehead, Coniston. They both worked as artists. He also wrote several books, lectured in Fine Art at University College Reading, and later designed war memorial crosses, including the one at Coniston. In 1897 he toured to Iceland with Dr Jón Stefánsson, a prominent Icelandic scholar. Together they wrote A pilgrimage to the saga-steads of Iceland, and produced a translation of Kormáks saga entitled, The Life and Death of Kormac the Skald. During his travels around Iceland, Gershom produced hundreds of sketches and watercolours, many of which are in the National Museum of Iceland in Reykjavik.