Following the Ruskin family's summer holiday in Switzerland, they returned to Herne Hill at the end of August 1842. Ruskin then settled down to his work on Modern Painters I. Ruskin's later views on Modern Painters I are reflected in the Epilogue to Modern Painters II (1883), where he misremembers the precise dating in 1842:
In its autumn I was again on the Continent - chiefly at Chamouni; - then, returning in the full enthusiasm and rush of sap in the too literally sapling and stripling mind of me, wrote the first volume of Modern Painters. ( Works, 4.344-45)
(See Chamonix). Preparations for the family's move in October to a grander house at Denmark Hill, about a mile away, were to prove a distraction. On 19 September 1842 he apologized to his 'College Friend', the Revd Edward Clayton, for not being able to go over to Twickenham, 'being in a bustle with moving, and busy besides with art, chemistry, and a little Greek' ( Works, 1.474). In Praeterita he recalls that Modern Painters I 'took the best of the winter's leisure' ( Works, 35.318). He must have worked at full stretch. Although no diary entries are extant for the last months of 1842, we do have entries for the early months of 1843, when he complains of fatigue and eye-strain during January ( Evans and Whitehouse, Diaries I, p.239). The best indications of progress, however, are in the evocative entries for 31 January 1843 - 'I have worked hard to-day, but I have done something. My stuff is getting a little into shape at last' - and 15 February 1843 - 'Bless me, how the days go! Only fourteen days to the time I gave myself for finishing my work' ( Evans and Whitehouse, Diaries I, pp.241, 244). The book was published in the first week of May 1843 (see long gestation period of Modern Painters I).