The Critic

John Crockford

General Description

Date: 1843-1863


◦ Althoz, Josef L. Mister Serjeant Cox, John Crockford, and the Origins of Crocker's Clerical Directory. Victorian Periodicals Review 17:4 (Winter 1984), pp. 153-158.

◦ Sullivan, Alvin, ed. The Critic. British Literary Magazines. vol.3. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1983-. pp. 96-102.

Scholarly Commentary


The Critic. London: John Crockford 1843-1863

The Critic had its beginnings as the book review section of Edward William Cox's successful legal weekly, The Law Times, founded in April of 1843. Cox was soon eager to expand the section in order to attract booksellers as advertisers, and in November of the same year began publishing The Critic of Literature, Art, Science, and the Drama as a separate monthly magazine. Cox designed The Critic to provide descriptive accounts of books, rather than critical opinions, so that it retained the factual style of its legal predecessor. Only briefly a financial and popular success, The Critic folded after two decades, but not before contributing to various literary controversies of its day, and providing an important forum for the early promotion of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood by William Michael Rossetti, Frederick George Stephens, and Alexander Gilchrist.

At heart, The Critic was a commerical venture, and Cox and editor James Lowe induced various transformations of the journal in an attempt to increase its popularity. In 1849 they expanded its format beyond literary news and book reports to include real articles on literature and art. By 1851, it boasted a circulation of 6,500 and challenged large periodicals such as The Athenaeum for the position of major literary journal in England. W.M. Rossetti wrote art reviews for The Critic during this period of growth, and Cox himself was writing notices of The Germ for inclusion as well. F.G. Stephens succeeded W.M. Rossetti as resident art critic in 1851, and continued to champion Pre-Raphaelite principles from its pages. Gilchrist also wrote art reviews for The Critic for the several years before his death in 1861. By that time, the journal was in increasing financial difficulties and circulation had dropped precipitously; The Critic ended with the December 1863 issue.

The materials gathered in the Rossetti Archive comprise those articles or parts of articles that DGR wrote for his brother when the latter was art critic for the journal (see WMR's note about this matter in his 1911 edition of DGR's works).

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: ap4.c88.raw.xml