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Charles Kingsley

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Charles Kingsley

by Adriano Cecioni
watercolour, published in Vanity Fair 30 March 1872
12 in. x 7 1/8 in. (305 mm x 181 mm)
Purchased, 1922
Primary Collection
NPG 1939

Sitterback to top

  • Charles Kingsley (1819-1875), Novelist, Church of England clergyman and controversialist. Sitter in 47 portraits.

Artistback to top

This portraitback to top

Published in Vanity Fair, 30 March 1872.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Foister, Susan, Cardinal Newman 1801-90, 1990 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 2 March - 20 May 1990), p. 65 Read entry

    After graduating from Cambridge and ordination in 1842, Kingsley became closely associated with F. D. Maurice's Christian Socialist movement. Where the Oxford Movement was concerned with Anglican doctrine and the relationship between Church and State, the Christian Socialists had little interest in doctrine and supported the Chartist movement which threatened the government in 1848. Kinglsey published a number of tracts promoting Christian Socialism, as well as the novels Yeast (1848) and Alton Locke (1850). Kingsley's religious sympathies did not hinder his career, despite being banned from preaching in 1851; in 1859 he became one of Queen Victoria's Chaplains in Ordinary and in 1860 was appointed Professor of Modern History at Cambridge. In 1863 he published The Water Babies.

    In January 1864 Kingsley wrote in a review of Froude's History in Macmillian's Magazine that 'Truth, for its own sake, had never been a virtue with the Roman Catholic clergy. Father Newman informs us that it need not and on the whole ought not to be'. There was an exchange of letters, and Kingsley made a public apology which Newman was advised was insufficient. Kingsley replied in a pamphlet called What, then, does Dr Newman mean? Newman's reply was his Apologia Pro Vita Sua, and Kingsley, now in poor health, was silenced.

    This drawing was published in Vanity Fair on 30 March 1872.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 354

Events of 1872back to top

Current affairs

The (Secret) Ballot Act is passed. By ending open voting in local and general elections, the act reduced the scope for intimidation at hustings, an important step towards democracy. Previously, voters had to mount a platform and announce their choice of candidate to a recording officer, so although most working men had already been enfranchised, employers were able to punish workers who did not vote for their preferred candidate.

Art and science

George Eliot's novel Middlemarch is published. Exploring the impact of the 1832 Reform Act on provincial England, and charting the changes in class, politics, art and science in the nineteenth-century, Eliot's novel is widely perceived to be one of the best examples of the English realist novel.


The Metaphysical Club is formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, by William James (brother of author Henry James), Oliver Wendel Holmes Jr, and Charles Sanders Peirce. The group begins to develop the American philosophy of pragmatism, which held that ideas were simply mental constructs that people formed to help them cope with the world, but which did not exist in an ideal realm.

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