English Literature Of The 19th Century:
Other Irish Story Writers
Thomas Adolphus Trollope
Poetry Of The Early Victorian Period
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Charles Kingsley was the apostle of muscular Christianity, but. his life was singularly uneventful. He was born in June, 1819, at Dartmoor, Devon, where his father was an old-fashioned fox-hunting rector. He went to Cambridge, took honors, and was ordained in the Church, of England. In 1841 he became curate at Eversley, Hampshire, and was afterwards rector there till his death in 1875. He had been appointed professor of history in Cambridge in 1861, canon at Chester, and at Westminster in 1873. He made some trips on the Continent and visited America.
Kingsley's first book was "The Saint's Tragedy" (1848), a drama on the story of St. Elizabeth of Hungary. Being roused by the Chartist movement and the writings of Carlyle to the necessity of righting the wrongs of the oppressed, he joined with F. D. Maurice in an effort to put Christian life into the masses. .His sympathy with the working-classes was shown in "Alton Locke" (1850), the pathetic story of a London tailor who took part in the Chartist insurrection, and in "Yeast" (1851), which made the stir of the time appear as a struggle towards a better life. His contributions to "Fraser's Magazine" treated of a variety of subjects from literature to fishing. "Hypatia," his first historical novel, is a vivid panorama of Alexandria in the Fourth Century and the struggle of Christianity with Pagan philosophy and other foes. These foes are virtually the same in all ages, notwithstanding the diversity of appearances. Hypatia, slain by a fanatical Christian mob, was the martyr maid of philosophy. Kingsley's next novel, "Westward Ho!" (1855) generally considered his masterpiece, recalled the Elizabethan adventurers, Raleigh and Drake. "Two Years Ago" (1857) dealt with the Crimean War. "Hereward the Wake" (1866) went back to the Saxon times. Throughout these historical novels the landscapes and sea-scenes are lovingly depicted, and the more remote they are, the more care is taken to render them pictorial. "Andromeda" (1858) has been pronounced the most successful attempt at the use of hexameter verse in English. It treats of the Greek myth of Perseus. "The Water Babies" (1863) is a charming fairy tale for children, yet contains satire for adults. His short poems, such as "The Three Fishers," are full of freshness and grace. An incidental remark of Kingsley's in 1864, which seemed to charge Newman with excusing disregard of truth, drew from the latter his famous "Apologia pro Vita Sua." This controversy was one of many which gave color to Kingsley's life.
His younger brother, Henry Kingsley (183o-1876), was also a vigorous novelist, though he never reached the same general recognition. Having lived in Australia five years, he made that land the scene of his best stories, "Geoffrey Hamlyn" and "Ravenshoe."