Letters of Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

Scope and Content

The material in the collection is composed of:

  • - incomplete and undated letter of Kingsley, with obituary notice of (Gen. 2127/30)
  • - letter from Kingsley to Archibald Geikie: Eversley 30 November 1868: giving a detailed account of his observations of the effect of ice on the geology of Deeside, Scotland (E2009.09)

See below for other related items including a letter to Archibald Geikie about shale oil production.

Administrative / Biographical History

The author Charles Kingsley was born on 12 June 1819 at Holne Vicarage in Devonshire, England. His father was the Rev. Charles Kingsley. The young Charles Kingsley was sent to school at Clifton, Bristol, in 1831, and then to the grammar school at Helston, Cornwall. In 1836 his family moved to London and he became a student at King's College, London, and then in 1838 he began studies at Magdelene College, Cambridge. In 1842 he became curate at Eversley, Hampshire. Kingsley married Fanny Grenfell in 1844 and in the same year he became rector at Eversley.

Kingsley's works include: Westward Ho! (1855); The water-babies (1863); Hereward the Wake (1866).

Though Charles Kingsley is now best remembered as a childrens writer and particularly remembered for The water-babies he was also a popular preacher and clergyman and well-known supporter of Charles Darwin, historian, proponent of womens education, and populariser of science. He had been interested in geology since childhood.

In 1859 he became one of Queen Victoria's chaplains-in-ordinary, and then in 1860 he became Professor of Modern History at Cambridge 1860, a post which he held until 1869. In 1869 he was appointed canon of Chester and then in 1873 he was appointed canon of Westminster.

Charles Kingsley died on 23 January 1875 and was buried at Eversley on 28 January.

Access Information

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository in advance of any visit.

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Acquisition Information

Undated incomplete letter acquired 1981, Accession No: E81.62; Letter 25 Jan. 1874 acquired 1960, Accession No: E60.33; Letter 30 Nov. 1868 acquired March 2009, Accession No: E2009.09


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). Dictionary of national biography. Vol.11. Kennett-Lluelyn. London: OUP, 1964. (2) Literary and historical manuscripts. Catalogue twenty-seven 2009. Recent acquisitions. Item 60. London: Michael Silverman, 2009

Other Finding Aids

None prepared for this collection.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.

Related Material

Within Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library, there is also a letter from Kinglsey to Archibald Geikie dated 25 January 1874, enquiring about the cost of production of shale oil near Edinburgh, at shelfmark Gen. 525/9. In addition there are letters to Kinglsey from Dr. John Brown, 3 Sept. 1862 within shelfmarks Gen.1730/15, and from T. Faed, 14 Nov. 1865 at shelfmark Dc.4.101 (Faed/3). And, a mention of Kingsley in a letter of J.C.Shairp to D.Laing, 26 Nov. n.y., at La.IV.17 fols. 8452-8453. (Check the print-based Index to Manuscripts, Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library for confirmation).