Unacknowledged Intellect: Scott’s Changing Reputation and an Alternative Victorian Critical Mode

  • Andrea Coldwell (Coker College)


Despite a critical tendency, common until recently, to minimize Sir Walter Scott’s impact as an intellectual, two late-Victorian reviewers, Julia Wedgwood and John Stuart Stuart-Glennie, do present Scott as a theorist and a contributor to the intellectual movements of his period.  In the arguments made by these two rather minor critics on Scott, readers can recognize a moment when both Scott’s critical fortunes as well as academic and popular critical practices could have taken a different path than they did.  What both critics attempt is a balance of the two critical perspectives that were beginning to emerge.  Rather than writing for either an audience of compliant lay people or of contentious experts, Wedgwood and Stuart-Glennie ask their readers to balance rational and sympathetic responses, to read with both reason and intuition.  In imagining such an audience, these critics imply that literature plays a role in the development of citizens who can, likewise, combine these responses, as they have practiced them in literature, and apply them to the problems faced by responsible citizens.

Keywords: authorship, Walter Scott, nineteenth-century British literature, critical reception, reviewing

How to Cite:

Coldwell, A., (2012) “Unacknowledged Intellect: Scott’s Changing Reputation and an Alternative Victorian Critical Mode”, Authorship 2(1). doi:

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Published on
18 Dec 2012
Peer Reviewed