Walter Richard Cassels

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Walter Richard Cassels
Born(1826-09-04)4 September 1826
London, England
Died10 June 1907(1907-06-10) (aged 80)
London, England
OccupationWriter, merchant
Notable worksSupernatural Religion
SpouseNever married

Walter Richard Cassels (4 September 1826 in London – 10 June 1907) is the speculated author of the anonymous work Supernatural Religion.


Born in London to a British consular official, Walter spent most of his early life in India. In partnership with two of his brothers he later set up a business in Bombay. After serving in the legislative council of Bombay from 1863 to 1865, he returned to England.

Supernatural Religion[edit]

Supernatural Religion... excited much interest by the outspoken criticism pervading it. The learned work furnishes efficient aid to rational inquiry, and deserves to be studied by all lovers of free investigation. The assaults which were made upon minor details leave its main positions unharmed."[1]

Cassels is renowned as the author of the anonymous work that appeared in 1874 under the title Supernatural Religion: An Inquiry into the Reality of Divine Revelation. The work at once attracted attention, and it resulted in much speculation about the real author. But no one ever admitted openly of its writing. In a reply to this book many articles and books were written. The most famous were essays written by Bishop J. B. Lightfoot, and printed later as a book. As a result a third volume was added to Supernatural Religion, and a revised edition was published in 1879. Replies to Bishop Lightfoot and other critics were made anonymously, appearing in magazine articles and as footnotes or prefaces to later editions of Supernatural Religion. These replies were also printed as a book.

Speculation that Cassels is the author surfaced in 1895 after his publication of a series of theological articles. Cassels however never publicly acknowledged his authorship of Supernatural Religion. Not much is known about his private life or how he became an early Christianity expert. He wrote poetry and was an art collector. Never married, he died in London on 10 June 1907.


Published anonymously[edit]


  1. ^ Samuel Davidson, D.D., L.L.D., Introduction to the Study of the New Testament, Preface to 2nd edition (1882).


  • Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Cassels, Walter Richard" . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 1. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  • Tracks of a Rolling Stone (1905), the autobiography of Cassels' friend, neighbour, and fellow freethinker, Henry J. Coke (1827–1916). Includes a brief account of Coke's friendship with Cassels.
  • "Matthew Arnold and 'The Author of Supernatural Religion': The Background to God and the Bible", by Jerold J. Savory. SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, Autumn 1976 (Vol 16 no 4), pp. 677–91. Article contrasting Cassels' work with the liberal theology of Matthew Arnold (1822–1888).
  • "Male Diagnosis of the Female Pen in Late Victorian Britain: Private Assessments of Supernatural Religion", by Alan H. Cadwallader. Journal of Anglican Studies, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 69–88 (2007). Article dealing with Victorian speculation that the anonymous author of Supernatural Religion was a woman.

External links[edit]