Hugh Miller Criticism - Essay

John M. Clarke (essay date January 1903)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Clarke, John M. “Hugh Miller and His Centenary.” New England Magazine n.s. 27, no. 5 (January 1903): 551-63.

[In the following essay, Clarke assesses Miller's reputation in his native Scotland and in America on the one hundredth anniversary of his birth.]

The people of Scotland have just been celebrating with unbounded enthusiasm the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of Hugh Miller.

In America Miller's name is not very familiar to the younger generation, but to those in the prime of life who, thirty or forty years ago, were reading with susceptible minds, it recalls diverse impressions: the story of a remarkable life, telling with...

(The entire section is 4142 words.)

W. M. Mackenzie (essay date 1905)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Mackenzie, W. M. “Literary Style.” In Hugh Miller: A Critical Study, pp. 25-50. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1905.

[In the following excerpt, Mackenzie analyzes Miller's prose style and the literary models that influenced his development as a writer.]

So far, then, have we been able to follow Miller in the careful training of himself for literary achievement. Without exactly playing “the sedulous ape,” he studies closely the general form, the tones and turns of expression characterising a well-defined group of writers, and shapes his own performance accordingly. It need not, therefore, be pronounced either futile or pedantic to endeavour to trace out...

(The entire section is 3514 words.)

George Rosie (essay date 1981)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Rosie, George. “Hugh Miller: A Biography.” In Hugh Miller: Outrage and Order, pp. 13-87. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1981.

[In the following excerpt, Rosie discusses Miller's editorship of the Witness.]


The first issue of Hugh Miller's Witness made its appearance on the streets of Edinburgh on 15 January 1840 (under a slogan coined by John Knox: “I am in the place where I am demanded of conscience to speak the truth, and therefore the truth I speak, impugn it whoso list”). From the outset Miller made it plain he meant business. “We enter upon our labours at a period emphatically momentous,” he...

(The entire section is 5155 words.)

Lynn L. Merrill (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Merrill, Lynn L. “Hugh Miller and Evocative Geology.” In The Romance of Victorian Natural History, pp. 236-54. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

[In the following essay, Merrill maintains that Miller's The Old Red Sandstone appealed to Victorian readers because of its attention to the particulars of natural description.]

Where can be seen an intenser delight than that of children picking up new flowers and watching new insects, or hoarding pebbles and shells? … Every botanist who has had children with him in the woods and the lanes must have noticed how eagerly they joined him in his pursuits, how keenly they searched out...

(The entire section is 7755 words.)

Harry Hanham and Michael Shortland (essay date 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Hanham, Harry and Michael Shortland. Introduction to Hugh Miller's Memoir: From Stonemason to Geologist, edited by Michael Shortland, pp. 1-86. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995.

[In the following excerpt, Hanham and Shortland discuss Miller's autobiography and its relationship to the emerging field of self-help literature.]



Miller had been experimenting with prose before the Poems appeared. The task he had set himself was to reconcile the easy colloquial style of his own juvenile stories with the classical style of the eighteenth century,...

(The entire section is 5893 words.)

James G. Paradis (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Paradis, James G. “The Natural Historian as Antiquary of the World: Hugh Miller and the Rise of Literary Natural History.” In Hugh Miller and the Controversies of Victorian Science, edited by Michael Shortland, pp. 122-49. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Paradis examines Scenes and Legends, The Old Red Sandstone and Footprints of the Creator.]


Standing in the Newcastle town museum on his English ramble during the rainy autumn of 1845, Hugh Miller reflected upon the extensive geological fragments and Anglo-Roman antiquities, collected from the countryside near Hadrian's Wall:...

(The entire section is 13733 words.)

David Alston (essay date 1996)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Alston, David. “The Fallen Meteor: Hugh Miller and Local Tradition.” In Hugh Miller and the Controversies of Victorian Science, edited by Michael Shortland, pp. 206-29. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[In the following essay, Alston emphasizes Miller's analytical and literary contributions as a folklorist of Scottish legends, myths, and stories.]

Hugh Miller collected around 350 traditional tales and customs,1 the bulk of which were published in Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland (1835) and in his autobiographical My Schools and Schoolmasters (1854). This number does not include stories from written sources, which he wove...

(The entire section is 12287 words.)