Novelist, poet, Anglican priest, and controversialist, Charles Kingsley (1819–75) epitomizes the bustling Victorian man of faith and letters, a prolific polymath as ready to break a lance with John Henry Newman over Christian doctrine as he was to preach to schoolchildren on the virtues of manly, physical struggle. Kingsley’s The Water-Babies and Westward Ho! were best-sellers which became classics of children’s literature. Kingsley has come to epitomize the Victorian age.
On closer inspection, Kingsley is harder to categorize: a socialist who was also an imperialist, a Chartist revolutionary who was Queen Victoria’s favourite novelist, a natural theologian who popularized Darwin, a priest who celebrated sex as sacrament. Kingsley only appears straightforward if you consider him one piece at a time. The debates he shaped remain with us today: faith and sexuality, economics and exploitation, race and identity. The aim of this book is to present the whole man: to consider the public crusades for public health alongside the most private fantasies of sexual intercourse; to consider the ardent imperialist alongside the Darwinist. It will be of interest to all students of Victorian studies, as well as of British/Imperial history, church history, and especially the history of science.
Table of Contents
Foreword: Amyas and Me: A Personal History of Charles Kingsley
Introduction: Charles Kingsley: "The Most Typical Victorian of Them All"
Jan Marten Ivo Klaver and Jonathan Conlin
1. "Love Me! Baby! Love God!": Courtship, Marriage, and the Emergence of a Kingsleyan Ascetics, 1839–1845
2. A "Yeasty State of Mind": Charles Kingsley and the Problem of Self-Culture
3. "To Amuse Merely as a Novel": Alton Locke (1850) and Literary Pleasure
4. Effeminate: Kingsley and the History of an Epithet
James Eli Adams
5. How Odd is Kingsley’s Hypatia?
6. The Fly in the Amber: The Controversy with Newman
Jan Marten Ivo Klaver
7. Kingsley’s Muscular Poetics
Herbert F. Tucker
8. Kingsley’s Old Testament Heroes
9. Charles Kingsley and the Evolution of Man and Morals in The Water-Babies
Piers J. Hale
10. Evolutionary and Anglican Afterlives: Death as a Sacrament in Kingsley’s Water Babies
11. Kingsley on Race and Empire
12. Kingsley and the Irish
13. Histories and Historians
Afterword: Charles Kingsley as Polymath
Jonathan Conlin is senior lecturer in modern history at the University of Southampton.
Jan Marten Ivo Klaver is professor of English Literature and culture at the University of Urbino.