Andrew Daniels in his comprehensive researches into Stanley's family and cultural background has produced convincing evidence of his debt to his father's passionate advocacy of the ideas of John Ruskin. Ruskin's writings, especially from the 1830s to the 1850s, were published at a time when the working class resulting from Victorian industrialisation was becoming increasingly self-educated and sensing its future, politically, socially and culturally. Of particular relevance to Stanley's approach was Ruskin's insistence on the physical senses and on observation of one's surroundings as the gateway to the spiritual.

Dinah Birch, Professor of English at Liverpool, has indicated the impact of Ruskin's persuasions:
     He's a very material writer, there's a particularity and a specifity about the sort of imaginative experience he gives us. He writes about things, about stones, flowers, buildings, hills, clouds, so that you come at his Big Ideas through the immediate felt experience of living in the world, and I think that is one of the reasons for his being so attractive to working communities who had not necessarily had the training or the intellectual discipline in processing an abstract idea. If you come at an idea through looking at a leaf, through looking at a stone, it is that much more accessible to you. So from that point of view Ruskin is always enormously attractive to self-taught people.
                                                                                                     BBC Radio 4: In Our Time: 31-03-05

Stanley's Pa, riding his ladies' bicycle round Cookham on his way to give music lessons at the 'big houses' and giving voice to his admiration by declaiming Ruskin to surprised passers-by, was in good company. Thinkers as diverse as Tolstoy, Proust and Gandhi were among the international figures who shared his Ruskin enthusiasm.

Occasionally in their memoirs we find Stanley and his brother Gilbert poking gentle fun at Pa's Victorian quirks. But these should not be taken as decrying them. Each new generation sees its predecessor as outdated while unconsciously absorbing and sustaining its vitality in new forms.