Box icon The Quarterly Review (1809-1967)

bound volumes of the Quarterly Review

The 'Quarterly Review' was founded in February 1809 by John Murray II, as a Tory rival to the Whig supporting 'Edinburgh Review'. It was set up and supported by a small number of powerful literary and political figures, notably Sir Walter Scott, Robert Southey, John Wilson Croker and George Canning.

It quickly gained a high reputation and influential popularity among its largely middle-class readership. Reviewing all aspects of political and literary life, it was often hostile to those writers who favoured political reform.

Wide-ranging and informed writing

Only the 'Edinburgh Review' could claim to rival the 'Quarterly Review' in readership, influence and quality during the 19th century. The articles were wide ranging and informed, an essential contribution to the spread and understanding of British and Western culture. There are thousands of critical articles and reviews, with over 3,500 in the 19th century alone.

The Quarterly Review brought together some of the most insightful and influential men from politics, religion, science and literature. Many of Murray's authors were reviewed or reviewers for the periodical. Regular 19th century contributors included John Wilson Croker, Robert Southey, John Barrow, Henry Hart Millman, John Wilson Croker, Samuel Smiles and Lady Elizabeth Eastlake.

Despite publishing Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species', Murray published one of the most scathing attacks on it with Samuel Wilberforce's review in 1860.

In the 20th century the Murray's took a more active editorial role. Contributors included John Betjeman and Osbert Lancaster. Following the death of John Murray V in 1967, publication of the 'Quarterly Review' ceased.

National Library of Scotland holdings: 305 complete volumes (1809-1967) shelfmark: NJ.240-243.

Also an incomplete set is shelved in the National Library of Scotland manuscripts reading room (Vol. 1, no. 1: Feb. 1809 to vol.271, no.538: Oct.1938).

Quarterly Review editors:

  • 1809-1824 William Gifford (1756-1826)
  • 1825 Sir John Taylor Coleridge (1790-1826)
  • 1825-1853 John Gibson Lockhart (1794-1854)
  • 1853-1860 Whitwell Elwin (1816-1900)
  • 1860-1867 William Macpherson (1812-1893)
  • 1867-1893 Sir William Smith (1813-1893)
  • 1893-1894 John Murray IV
  • 1894-1899 Rowland Edmund Prothero (1851-1937)
  • 1899-1922 Sir George Walter Prothero (1848-1922)
  • 1922-1928 Charles Edward Lawrence (1870-1940)
  • 1928-circa 1940 John Murray V and Charles Edward Lawrence (1870-1940)
  • circa 1940-1967 John Murray V

Top of page

Topics in the archive

In publishing:

'The Review is the greatest of all his works, and it is all his own creation; he prints 10,000, and fifty times ten thousand read its contents in the East and West.'
– Robert Southey, 1817.

Who's who?

Key figures in Murray publishing:

Related links on the web:

Quarterly Review Archive