Charles Kingsley was born in Holne, Devon, England in June of 1819. His parents, Charles Kingsley and Mary Lucas Kingsley had two sons, including the future poet, and one daughter. Both of Kingsley’s siblings would later become writers as well. His early life was seen in Clovelly, Devon where his father was Curate and Rector. The young boy was educated at Bristol Grammar School and then later Helston Grammar school.
Charles Kingsley was eventually sent on to continue his education at the University o Cambridge. He entered Magdalen College in 1838 and graduated four years later. Like his father, he had chosen to pursue a career in the church. Kingsley’s first work, Yeast, was a novel and was published in 1848. It was followed by a play and another novel titled Alton Locke in 1848-49.
The 1850s and 60s were an extremely prolific period of time for the writer. He published The Heroes, a children’s book about Greek mythology. It was released around the same time period as his novels, Hereward the Wake and Westward Ho! The latter would go on to inspire the founding of a village by the same name as well as the Bideford, Westward Ho! and Appledore Railway.
In 1859 he was appointed as chaplain to Queen Victoria and then later as a professor of modern history at Cambridge. He maintained this position until 1869. During the intervening years of Kingsley’s time at Cambridge, he worked as a private tutor to the Prince of Wales.
In 1863 he published The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby. This work illustrates his social concern for the welfare of young children forced to work. The book centers around the story of a chimney sweep. It won the Lewis Carrol Shelf Award in the early 1960s. You can also read about the poems Charles Kingsley wrote.
Later Life and Death
From 1870 to 1873 he was a canon of Chester Cathedral. It was also during this period that he founded the Chester Society for Natural Science, Literature and Art. He later became the president of the Birmingham and Midland Institute. Two years before this death in 1875 he was made a canon of Westminster Abby. He was bored in St Mary’s Churchyard in Eversley.