Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) led quite a wild life at university but, in 1842, he followed in his father's footsteps and was ordained as a priest. He was a Christian Socialist and spent his life campaigning for such things as better education for girls and improving the living conditions of the working class. In the inflexible Victorian society, Kingsley was soon branded a radical. During these 'out of favor' years, he was a devoted priest in Hampshire and put his beliefs into practice. His work as a parish priest and his lecture tours as a Christian Socialist always came first, leaving his writing to take second place. His patriotic attitude toward the Crimean War (1854—56), made him acceptable in society again and he became Chaplain to Queen Victoria. Later, royal influence led to his appointment as a Professor of History at Cambridge University.
As was common among Victorian writers, Kingsley often used his writing to give a social message. What made him different and special was his ability to tell good stories and to write them with real skill, taking them above the level of social tracts. The Water Babies is still his best known title, but he wrote other excellent stories, including Westward Ho!
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