First published in 1809 as a Tory rival to the Whig Edinburgh Review, its founders included George Canning, Secretary of Foreign Affairs, John Murray, the publisher and Walter Scott; it retained a close connection with the Tory government, in power from 1809-1830. Like its Whig rival, the Quarterly was dedicated to preserving aristocratic interests and was seen as one of the twin pillars of the establishment. The Quarterly attacked romantic writers such as Keats, Shelley and Charles Lamb (1775-1834), who were dismissed as the 'Cockney School'. Editor from 1825-52 was J. G. Lockhart, formerly editor of Blackwood's Magazine, who asked Ruskin to review Lord Lindsay's Sketches on the History of Christian Art in 1847, and Charles Eastlake 's History of Oil Painting in 1848.
Previously ignored by both the Quarterly and the Edinburgh Review, Ruskin's writing was attacked by the critic, Elizabeth Eastlake, in the Quarterly Review, March 1856, prompted by the publication of Modern Painters III in January 1856. Following a similarly hostile review from Henry Chorley in the Edinburgh Review, April 1856, Ruskin was defended by the British Quarterly Review, April 1856, the Westminster Review, April 1856, the American Putnam's Monthly Magazine, May 1856, the Eclectic Review, June 1856, Fraser's Magazine, June 1856, the Oxford and Cambridge Magazine, June 1856, and the National Review, July 1856. Many of these periodicals were those representing the interests of religious dissent.