Charles Kingsley Biography

Biography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Charles Kingsley was the son of an Anglican clergyman. Two of his siblings, George Henry and Henry, became well-known authors in Victorian England, but Charles attained the greatest fame. After an unimpressive record at school he entered King’s College in London when he was seventeen. Matriculation at King’s College was probably for the convenience of the family, for Charles’s father had become rector of a church in London. After two years, however, Charles Kingsley left to finish his education at Cambridge University. While there he met and fell in love with Fanny Grenfell, but her family was opposed to the match because Kingsley had already made for himself a reputation as a rather wild and radical young man who followed Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Carlyle, and Frederick Denison Maurice in his thinking.

After graduating from Cambridge, Kingsley was ordained as an Anglican clergyman and sent as a curate to Eversley, Hampshire, on the edge of the New Forest. In 1844 he succeeded to the living at Eversley as rector and married Fanny Grenfell. In addition to his work as a clergyman he began to write, and in 1842 he started a biography of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, which eventually became the poetic drama The Saint’s Tragedy. During the early years of his marriage Kingsley augmented his slender income by teaching and lecturing. In 1848, however, the year when Kingsley’s first book was published, the young clergyman began to take an...

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Charles Kingsley Bibliography (Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Chitty, Susan. The Beast and the Monk. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1974. A rather Freudian interpretation of Kingsley’s works.

Hall, Donald E., ed. Muscular Christianity: Embodying the Victorian Age. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994. Places Kingsley in the context of Christian gender roles in nineteenth century English literature. Includes a bibliography and index.

Harris, Styron. Charles Kingsley: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981. An extensive guide to other sources.

Hartley, A. J. The Novels of Charles Kingsley: A Christian Social Interpretation. Folkestone, England: Hour-Glass Press, 1977. A thorough survey of Kingsley’s work.

Kingsley, Charles. Charles Kingsley: His Letters and Memories of His Life, edited by Frances Eliza Grenfell Kingsley. 2 vols. 1877. Reprint. London: Macmillan, 1910. These volumes, edited by Kingsley’s wife, provide some of the best biographical material.

Pope-Hennessy, Una. Canon Charles Kingsley: A Biography. New York: Macmillan, 1949. One of the better biographies devoted to Kingsley.

Stitt, Megan Perigoe. Metaphors of Change in the Language of Nineteenth-Century Fiction: Scott, Gaskell, and Kingsley. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Looks at these three nineteenth century novelists in terms of social change, literary history, and British history. Includes bibliography and index.

Uffleman, Larry. Charles Kingsley. Boston: Twayne, 1979. A good introductory survey of Kingsley’s life and work.