Bagehot was a prolific writer on a wide range of subjects. He began by contributing articles to journals, and in 1861 he took over the editorship of The Economist, in which he wrote a weekly column in addition to his editorial duties. His journalistic style and topical observations made him a popular and accessible author in Victorian times.
Collections of his works are listed on this page. His individual works are listed separately here. A selection of his famous sayings and observations can be found in the section called Walter’s wise words.
His publications have been collected and republished by a number of people. The first collections were produced by his friend and collaborator, Richard Holt Hutton.
Biographical studies by the late Walter Bagehot, edited by Richard Holt Hutton. (Longmans, Green & Co, 1881)
Literary studies by the late Walter Bagehot, edited by Richard Holt Hutton. (3 vols. Longmans, Green & Co, 1891-1898). Some of these essays were later republished as Estimations in criticism, edited by Cuthbert Lennox (Andrew Melrose, 1908).
Economic Studies, edited by Richard Holt Hutton. (Longmans, Green & Co, 1895)
Richard Hutton also contributed to:
The works of Walter Bagehot, edited by Forrest Morgan. (Travelers Insurance Co, 1889)
A much more extensive work was published in 10 volumes by his sister-in-law, Emilie Barrington. One volume is a biography, the others reproduce a selection of his works.
Mrs Russell Barrington (ed). Works and life of Walter Bagehot. (10 vols. Longmans, Green & Co, 1915). It’s available online.
Norman St John Stevas (Lord St John of Fawsley) 1929-2012
Norman St John Stevas was described in his Times obituary as a distinguished barrister, prolific writer and influential politician. The obituary also stated that ‘his grasp of the mechanics of the British constitution was born out of his tireless study of the life of Walter Bagehot’. He was best known for his work as editor of Bagehot’s writings.
He first began to research the life and work of Bagehot in the 1950s, when he visited Langport to gather information for his biographical study. This was published as:
Walter Bagehot: a study of his life and thought together with a selection from his political writings, by Norman St John-Stevas. (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1959)
Later he published his collection of Bagehot’s writings: The collected works of Walter Bagehot. (15 vols. The Economist, 1965-86):
- Vols 1-2: The literary essays (1965)
- Vols 3-4: The historical essays (1968)
- Vols 5-8: The political essays (1974)
- Vols 9-11: The economic essays (1978)
- Vols 12-13: The letters (1986)
- Vols 14-15: Miscellany (1986)
Ruth Dudley Edwards
Ruth Dudley Edwards, perhaps better known for her novels, non-fiction and journalism, fell in love with Bagehot’s writing and tried to convert her friends: “Usually the initial response was surprise that Bagehot was funny and made one think. Most people saw him as a solemn Victorian worthy who said grave things about the constitution. Many of them had never even heard of him and could not pronounce his name.” In 1993 she published The best of Bagehot (Hamish Hamilton), an interesting anthology.