Edinburgh Review

The Edinburgh Review has been the title of four distinct intellectual and cultural magazines. The best known, longest-lasting, and most influential of the four was the third, which was published regularly from 1802 to 1929.

Edinburgh Review, 1755–56

The first Edinburgh Review was a short-lived venture initiated in 1755 by the Select Society, a group of Scottish men of letters concerned with the Enlightenment goals of social and intellectual improvement. According to the preface of the inaugural issue, the journal's purpose was to "demonstrate 'the progressive state of learning in this country' and thereby to incite Scots 'to a more eager pursuit of learning, to distinguish themselves, and to do honour to their country.'" As a means to these ends, it would "give a full account of all books published in Scotland within the compass of half a year; and ... take some notice of such books published elsewhere, as are most read in this country, or seem to have any title to draw the public attention." Among the most notable of the foreign publications it observed was Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Discourse on Inequality, which Adam Smith reviewed in the journal's second and final issue, published in March 1756. Its premature folding was due in large part to the partisan attacks the Moderate editors received from their opponents in the Church of Scotland, the Popular Party.[1]

Edinburgh Magazine and Review, 1773–76

A short-lived magazine with similar purposes, Edinburgh Magazine and Review, was published monthly between 1773–1776.

Edinburgh Review, 1802–1929

Edinburgh Review
First issue  1802 (1802-month)
Final issue 1929
Country United Kingdom
Language English

The third Edinburgh Review became one of the most influential British magazines of the 19th century. It promoted Romanticism and Whig politics.[2] (Though it was also notoriously critical of some major Romantic poetry.)[3]

Started on 10 October 1802 by Francis Jeffrey, Sydney Smith, Henry Brougham, and Francis Horner,[4] it was published by Archibald Constable in quarterly issues until 1929. It began as a literary and political review. Under its first permanent editor, Francis Jeffrey (the first issue was edited by Sydney Smith), it was a strong supporter of the Whig party and liberal politics, and regularly called for political reform. Its main rival was the Quarterly Review which supported the Tories. The magazine was also noted for its attacks on the Lake Poets, particularly William Wordsworth.[5]

It was owned at one point by John Stewart, whose wife Louisa Hooper Stewart (1818–1918) was an early advocate of women's suffrage, having been educated at the Quaker school of Newington Academy for Girls.[6]

It took its Latin motto judex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur ('the judge is condemned when the guilty is acquitted') from Publilius Syrus.

The magazine ceased publication in 1929.

Notable contributors to the third Edinburgh Review

Edinburgh Review, 1984–

The Scottish cultural magazine New Edinburgh Review was founded in 1969. In 1984 (from the combined issue 67/68) it explicitly adopted the title Edinburgh Review, along with the motto To gather all the rays of culture into one. It is still published, and is part of the Eurozine network. The most famous issues of the New Edinburgh Review were the 1974 issues, supervised by C. K. Maisels, that discussed the philosophy of Antonio Gramsci.[7]


  1. Lomonaco, Jeffrey (October 2002). "Adam Smith's "Letter to the Authors of the Edinburgh Review"". Journal of the History of Ideas. 63 (4): 660–61. doi:10.2307/3654165.
  2. John Clive, "The Edinburgh Review," History Today. (1952) 2#12 pp 844-850.
  3. John Clive, Scotch Reviewers: The Edinburgh Review, 1802–1815, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1957, pp. 164–65.
  4. John Clive, Scotch Reviewers: The Edinburgh Review, 1802–1815, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1957, pp. 186–97.
  5. John Clive, "The Edinburgh Review," History Today. (1952) 2#12 pp 844-850.
  6. Stewart, Louisa Hooper, ed. Evelyn Roberts, Louisa: memories of a Quaker childhood, Friends Home Service Committee, 1970.Cited in Stoke Newington Quaker history page
  7. See Proletarian Order, by Gwyn A. Williams (1975), and Gramsci, by James Joll (1977) for discussion of the NER Gramsci issues. Maisels was a member of the Communist Organisation in the British Isles.

Further reading

External links

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