Whitwell Elwin

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Whitwell Elwin (26 February 1816 – 1 January 1900) was an English clergyman, critic and editor of the Quarterly Review.


He was the son of Marsham Elwin, a country gentleman of Thurning, Norfolk, and a descendant of John Rolfe and Pocahontas. Whitwell Elwin studied at Caius College, Cambridge, and took holy orders in 1840.[1] He was Rector of Booton, Norfolk from 1849 until his death. There he rebuilt St Michael the Archangel's Church to his own design.


Elwin was an important contributor to the Quarterly Review, of which he was editor from 1853 until 1860.

He undertook to complete Croker's edition of Alexander Pope, and brought out five volumes, when he dropped it, leaving it to be finished by William John Courthope. As an editor he was extremely autocratic, and on all subjects had pronounced opinions, and often singular likes and dislikes.

He is also known for being sent an advance copy of a new book by the naturalist Charles Darwin. Elwin is said to have read the book with interest and agreed that it had merit, but feared that the subject of evolution was too narrow to attract a wide audience. Elwin urged Darwin to write a book about pigeons instead, but his advice was ignored and On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life was published in late November 1859, priced at fifteen shillings.


  1. "Elwin, Whitwell (ELWN834W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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