|Coles, Nicholas. "Charles Kingsley," in Dictionary
of Literary Biography, Volume 32: Victorian Poets Before 1850.
Edited by William E. Fredeman (Detroit: Gale, 1984): 182-190.
In this DLB chapter Coles provides an overview of Kingsley’s
life interspersed with a review of his writings, particularly his poetry.
There is a bibliography of Kingsley’s own works together with a short secondary
bibliography. There are also several illustrations. Coles writes
that “Kingsley’s literary career was marked by oscillation among genres
rather than by steady development: his dominant themes, however, remained
constant. He was only occasionally a poet and, after a bout of experimentation,
worked most successfully in simple established forms. His longest-lasting
pieces were the lyrics which John Hullah set to music” (189).
Colloms, Brenda. “Charles Kingsley, Poet and Social
Reformer,” RSV: Rivista di Studi Vittoriani Vol. 1, No. 2 ( July
In a lengthy article Colloms provides a sketch of Kingsley’s life,
character, and works, concentrating on his poetry. She praises in
particular the “disturbing and powerful” poem “St. Maura” but declares
that Kinglsey will be remembered by the general public for his shorter
poems (36). She also lauds Kingsley for having added the topic of
social problems to the scope of the popular novel.
and Political Views.
Elton, Oliver. A Survey of English Literature
1830-1880. 2 Vols. (London: Edward Arnold, 1932; first published
1920) Vol. II: 309-316.
Elton presents a broad overview of Kingsley’s life and works. Yeast
is not really a novel but “a kind of pamphlet-fantasy” in which the authorial
commentary renders Kingsley himself the most distinct character (310).
However, the work reveals promise of the future novelist. The true
power of Alton Locke lies in its pictures rather than its ideas.
is praised for its drama and the passion and action of the story. Westward
Ho!, more “a saga than a novel with a plot” (311), is lauded for its
action, its enthusiasm, and its fine scene painting. Though Two
Years Ago has excessive moralizing, “Kingsley is himself again whenever
he gets back to landscape or to narrative” (312). Hereward the Wake
suffers from a surfeit of the professor and a paucity of the artist. The
Heroes receives high praise for its style, its descriptions, its appeal
to children. Elton also lauds Kingsley’s “fervid picturesqueness”
in a number of his shorter works, particularly his naturalist depictions
in At Last. The Water-Babies though popular “is a good
book badly spoilt” (314). Elton commends Kingsley’s poetic power,
particularly his lyric and narrative poems. “He is one of the few
poets of the time who make us wish cordially that he had written more”
Hearn, Lafcadio. Appreciations of Poetry
(London: William Heinemann, 1922).
In his examination of Kingsley’s poetry Hearn declares that he wrote
the best hexameters and the best songs of the period and gives especial
praise to “Sands of Dee”. On the other hand, he is very critical
of the dramatic work “The Saint’s Tragedy” and declares that instances
of “rubbish” reside in Kingsley’s poetic oeuvre. Still, “the jewels
among that rubbish have a peculiar colour and splendour that distinguish
them from everything else written during the same period” (297).
Hoagwood, Terence. “Kingsley's ‘Young and Old',” Explicator
46, No. 4 (Summer 1988): 18-21.
Hoagwood analyzes Kingsley’s ‘Young and Old,” the short poem sung by
the kind schoolmistress at Vendale in The Water-Babies. He
shows that it is impossible for the song to be fully understood when first
encountered in the book. It is only later in the story that we recognize
that the song is the old dame’s lament for her son Grimes who left her.
The realization at the end of the novel that Grimes is her son “enables
us to revisit the lyric and to revise our understanding of its latent,
private, and even secret significance for the grieving old dame” (19).
‘Young and Old’;
Melville, Lewis. “The Centenary of Charles Kingsley,”
Review Vol. 115 (June 1919): 670-674.
Melville’s appreciation of Kingsley’s life and works contains little
that he did not write in his 1906 Victorian Novelists. However,
he is more certain this time that Westward Ho! is Kingsley’s best
work. “The deeds of derring–do in the South Seas and on the Spanish
Main, and the story of the defeat of the great Armada are admirably told,
and are comparable with similar episodes in the best works of any other
author. There Kingsley is at his best, and his best is very good
in Novels; Westward Ho!.
Melville, Lewis. "Charles Kingsley," in his Victorian
Novelists (London: Archibald Constable, 1906): 106-124.
Melville reviews Kingsley’s life and works. He praises some of
Kingsley’s shorter poems though considering that his poetry in general
is not up to the standard of his romances. Yeast is more a
pamphlet than a novel and is spoiled by Kingsley’s dissertations on his
own views. Though the story of Alton Locke is slight, the
novel’s characterization is superior to that of Yeast. Melville
praises Hypatia for its “brilliant and forcible picture of life”,
for its fine characterization, and its good planning. It is, however,
“sometimes stagey, and often melodramatic, and not infrequently grandiloquent”
(114, 118). Westward Ho! is Kingsley’s most successful novel
though it does not quite reach the level of Hypatia. Melville
singles out Kingsley’s command of language and his scene-painting.
“. . . it is this power of description that distinguishes him above his
contemporaries, with the exception, perhaps of Disraeli; indeed, places
him in this respect above all writers since Scott, and even Scott’s landscape
does not always seem so spontaneous” (124).
Seaver, George. Charles
Kingsley: Poet (Folcroft Library Editions, 1973).
This is a short volume, about forty pages, examining Kingsley's poetry.
Seaver declares that his poetic output cannot be considered great either
for its output or for its quality. Still, he praises much of his
poetry and argues that "it has its own distinctive note: among the minor
poets of our language he stands high" (3-4). Seaver also lauds the
poetic nature of Kingsley's prose; much is "prose-poetry". In fact,
his quality as a poet may be especially seen in his pen-pictures of nature
and scenery in his Prose Idylls and in his novels. However,
Seaver concludes that the main interest will abide in Kingsley the man
rather than Kingsley the poet.
Rhythm; Saint's Tragedy, The.
Uffelman, Larry K. Charles Kingsley (Boston:
In this book length study Uffelman focuses on Kingsley's literary achievement.
Chapter I provides an overview in which Kingsley's works are presented
chronologically. In subsequent chapters they are grouped thematically.
Uffelman declares that Kingsley, though a writer of some attractive lyrics
and ballads, was a minor poet. His main claim was as a novelist.
Though much of what he wrote was literature with a purpose, Uffelman considers
"that the impact of that literature is due not so much to its purpose as
to its presentation" (136).
Book Treatment; Novels;