Last modified on 23 June 2014, at 06:59

Charles Kingsley

Charles Kingsley
CharlesKingsley.jpeg
Born (1819-06-12)12 June 1819
Holne, Devon, England
Died 23 January 1875(1875-01-23) (aged 55)
Eversley, Hampshire, England
Occupation Clergyman, University professor, Historian, Writer (novelist)
Nationality English
Alma mater King's College London
Cambridge University
Period 19th century
Genres Children's Literature

Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 – 23 January 1875) was a priest of the Church of England, a university professor, historian and novelist. He is particularly associated with the West Country and northeast Hampshire. He was a friend and correspondent with Charles Darwin.[1]

Life and characterEdit

Kingsley was born in Holne, Devon, the first of two sons from the Reverend Charles Kingsley and his wife Mary Lucas Kingsley. His brother, Henry Kingsley, also became a novelist. He spent his childhood in Clovelly, Devon and Barnack, Northamptonshire and was educated at Helston Grammar School[2] before studying at King's College London, and the University of Cambridge. Charles entered Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1838, and graduated in 1842.[3] He chose to pursue a ministry in the church. From 1844, he was rector of Eversley in Hampshire. In 1859 he was appointed chaplain to Queen Victoria.[4] In 1860, he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge.[4] In 1861 he became a private tutor to the Prince of Wales.[4]

In 1869 Kingsley resigned his Cambridge professorship and, from 1870 to 1873, was a canon of Chester Cathedral. While in Chester he founded the Chester Society for Natural Science, Literature and Art, which played an important part in the establishment of the Grosvenor Museum.[5] In 1872 he accepted the Presidency of the Birmingham and Midland Institute and became its 19th President.[6] In 1873 he was made the canon of Westminster Abbey.[4] Kingsley died in 1875 and was buried in St Mary's Churchyard in Eversley.

Kingsley sat on the 1866 Edward Eyre Defence Committee along with Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Charles Dickens and Alfred Lord Tennyson, where he supported Jamaican Governor Edward Eyre's brutal suppression of the Morant Bay Rebellion against the Jamaica Committee.

One of his daughters, Mary St Leger Kingsley, became known as a novelist under the pseudonym of "Lucas Malet".

Kingsley's life was written by his widow in 1877, entitled Charles Kingsley, his Letters and Memories of his Life.

Kingsley also received letters from Thomas Huxley in 1860 and later in 1863, discussing Huxley's early ideas on agnosticism.

Influences and worksEdit

Kingsley's interest in history is shown in several of his writings, including The Heroes (1856), a children's book about Greek mythology, and several historical novels, of which the best known are Hypatia (1853), Hereward the Wake (1865) and Westward Ho! (1855).

Kingsley

He was sympathetic to the idea of evolution and was one of the first to praise Charles Darwin's book On the Origin of Species. He had been sent an advance review copy and in his response of 18 November 1859 (four days before the book went on sale) stated that he had "long since, from watching the crossing of domesticated animals and plants, learnt to disbelieve the dogma of the permanence of species."[7] Darwin added an edited version of Kingsley's closing remarks to the next edition of his book, stating that "A celebrated author and divine has written to me that 'he has gradually learnt to see that it is just as noble a conception of the Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws'."[8] When a heated dispute lasting three years developed over human evolution, Kingsley gently satirised the debate as the Great Hippocampus Question.

Kingsley's concern for social reform is illustrated in his classic, The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby (1863), a tale about a chimney sweep, which retained its popularity well into the 20th century. The story mentions the main protagonists in the scientific debate over human origins, rearranging his earlier satire as the "great hippopotamus test". The book won a Lewis Carroll Shelf Award in 1963.

As a novelist his chief power lay in his descriptive faculties. The descriptions of South American scenery in Westward Ho!, of the Egyptian desert in Hypatia, of the North Devon scenery in Two Years Ago, are brilliant; and the American scenery is even more vividly and more truthfully described when he had seen it only by the eye of his imagination than in his work At Last, which was written after he had visited the tropics. His sympathy with children taught him how to secure their interests. His version of the old Greek stories entitled The Heroes, and Water-babies and Madam How and Lady Why, in which he deals with popular natural history, take high rank among books for children. Kingsley was influenced by Frederick Denison Maurice, and was close to many Victorian thinkers and writers, including the Scottish writer George MacDonald.

Kingsley was highly critical of Roman Catholicism and his argument, in print, with John Henry Newman, accusing him of untruthfulness and deceit, prompted the latter to write his Apologia Pro Vita Sua. Kingsley also wrote poetry and political articles, as well as several volumes of sermons.

Kingsley coined the term pteridomania in his 1855 book Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore.[9]

LegacyEdit

A statue of Charles Kingsley at Bideford, Devon (UK)

Charles Kingsley's novel Westward Ho! led to the founding of a town by the same name (the only place name in England which contains an exclamation mark) and inspired the construction of the Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway. A hotel in Westward Ho! was named for him and it was opened by him.

A hotel opened in 1897 in Bloomsbury, London, was named after Kingsley. The hotel was founded by teetotallers who admired Kingsley for his political views and his ideas on social reform. It still exists, and is now known as The Kingsley by Thistle.[10]

BibliographyEdit

  • Yeast, a novel (1848)
  • Saint's Tragedy, a drama
  • Alton Locke, a novel (1849)
  • Twenty-five Village Sermons (1849)
  • Cheap Clothes and Nasty (1850)
  • Phaeton, or Loose Thoughts for Loose Thinkers (1852)
  • Sermons on National Subjects (1st series, 1852)
  • Hypatia, a novel (1853)
  • Glaucus, or the Wonders of the Shore (1855)
  • Sermons on National Subjects (2nd series, 1854)
  • Alexandria and her Schools (I854)
  • Westward Ho!, a novel (1855)
  • Sermons for the Times (1855)
  • The Heroes, Greek fairy tales (1856)
  • Two Years Ago, a novel (1857)
  • Andromeda and other Poems (1858)
  • The Good News of God, sermons (1859)
  • Miscellanies (1859)
  • Limits of Exact Science applied to History (Inaugural lectures, 1860)
  • Town and Country Sermons (1861)
  • Sermons on the Pentateuch (1863)
  • The Water-Babies (1863)
  • The Roman and the Teuton (1864)
  • David and other Sermons (1866)
  • Hereward the Wake: "Last of the English", a novel (London: Macmillan, 1866)
  • The Ancient Régime (Lectures at the Royal Institution, 1867)
  • Water of Life and other Sermons (1867)
  • The Hermits (1869)
  • Madam How and Lady Why (1869)
  • At Last: a Christmas in the West Indies (1871)
  • Town Geology (1872)
  • Discipline and other Sermons (1872)
  • Prose Idylls (1873)
  • Plays and Puritans (1873)
  • Health and Education (1874)
  • Westminster Sermons (1874)
  • Lectures delivered in America (1875)

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Hale, Piers. "Darwin's Other Bulldog: Charles Kingsley and the Popularisation of Evolution in Victorian England." Science & Education 21, no. 7 (2012): 979. URL-http://faculty-staff.ou.edu/H/Piers.J.Hale-1/DARWIN'S%20OTHER%20BULLDOG%202011.pdf. 3rd page of the PDF.
  2. ^ ODNB article by Norman Vance, ‘Kingsley, Charles (1819–1875)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 [1], accessed 13 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Kingsley, Charles (KNGY838C)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  4. ^ a b c d Christine L. Krueger, (2009), Encyclopedia of British writers, 19th century, page 194. ISBN 1438108702
  5. ^ "Information Sheet: Charles Kingsley". Cheshire West and Chester. Retrieved 19 April 2010. 
  6. ^ Presidents of the BMI, BMI, nd (c.2005)
  7. ^ Darwin 1887, p. 287.
  8. ^ Darwin 1860, p. 481.
  9. ^ Peter D. A. Boyd's Pteridomania
  10. ^ The Kingsley by Thistle

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit