Alfred Russel Wallace wrote a favorable review of Hereditary Genius in Nature, concluding that the book "...will take rank as an important and valuable addition to the science of human nature." In general, contemporary scientists in Victorian England reviewed the book favorably, but reception among non-scientific Victorian readers was more mixed: religious commentators were much more critical of the book than were those of neither a scientific nor a religious background. Writing in the Journal of Anthropology, George Harris wrote, "We thank Mr. Galton for leading the way. We have canvassed his opinions freely; and, frequently as we differ from him, we must again assert our belief as to the value of his efforts, and the candid manner in which he has conducted his inquiries". Charles Darwin, a cousin of Galton, praised the book, writing in a letter to his cousin,
I have only read 50 pages of your book (to Judges), but I must exhale myself, else something will go wrong with my inside. I do not think I ever in all of my life read anything more interesting and original—and how well and clearly you put every point!"