Henry Neville Hutchinson was a prolific populariser of geology, palaeontology, archaeology, and anthropology. His passion for all things literary, moreover, filled his scientific writings with apt allusions to novels and poetry. Educated in science but lacking a formal research position, Hutchinson often criticised the scientific establishment, leading to a backlash from established scientists. This article demonstrates that, in opposition to Hutchinson's participatory rhetoric and romantic literary style, leading researchers characterised his popular science texts as 'literature' rather than 'science'. In the process they policed the uncertain bounds of late Victorian knowledge-making. In addition to revealing more about a controversial and ambiguous figure, this case study shows how, through the redefinition of literature, certain established scientific researchers attempted to distinguish truly scientific writing from literary culture.