Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa


  • Catherine Nealy Judd (a1)

Charles Kingsley's children's novel The Water-Babies (WB), written in the spring and summer of 1862, is a politically anxious text. In this essay I argue that although The Water-Babies’ overall structure appears to be chaotic and arbitrary – J. M. I. Klaver, for example, deems the work a “Victorian fantasy crowded with Kingsley's hobby-horses” where he “pour[s] out whatever he had on his mind” (517) – in fact Kingsley's disquietude concerning the Irish Famine, U.S. slavery, and the condition of the British working classes provides a logical framework for the text.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

David Alderson . “An Anatomy of the British Polity: Alton Locke and Christian Manliness.” Victorian Identities: Social and Cultural Formations in Nineteenth-Century Literature. Ed. Ruth Robbins and Julian Wolfreys . Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996. 4361.

Gillian Beer . Darwin's Plots: Evolutionary Narrative in Darwin, George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Fiction. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2009.

Donald Bellows . “A Study of British Conservative Reaction to the American Civil War.” Journal of Southern History 51.4 (1985): 505–26.

Janice Carlisle . Picturing Reform in Victorian Britain. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2012.

John C., S. J. Hawley The Water-Babies as Catechetical Paradigm.” Children's Literature Association Quarterly 14.1 (1989): 1921.

Amanda Hodgson . “Defining the Species: Apes, Savages and Humans in Scientific and Literary Writing of the 1860s.” Journal of Victorian Culture 4.2 (2001) 228–51.

Jenny Holt . “‘A Partisan Defense of Children’? Kingsley's The Water-Babies Re-Contextualized.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 33.4 (2011): 353–70.

Peter J. Hugill The American Challenge to British Hegemony, 1861–1947.” Geographical Review 99.3 (2009): 403–25.

J[an]. M[arten]. I[vo]. Klaver The Apostle of the Flesh: A Critical Life of Charles Kingsley. Leiden: Brill, 2006.

Elizabeth D. McCausland Dirty Little Secrets: Realism and the Real in Victorian Industrial Novels.” The American Journal of Semiotics 9.2-3 (1992): 149–65.

Elsie B. Michie Morbidity in Fairyland: Frances Trollope, Charles Dickens, and the Rhetoric of Abolition.” Partial Answers 9.2 (2011): 233–51.

Ruth Murphy . “Darwin and 1860s Children's Literature: Belief, Myth or Detritus.” Journal of Literature and Science 5.2 (2012): 521.

Anna Neill . “Marvelous Plasticity and the Fortunes of Species in The Water-Babies .” Philosophy and Literature 38.1 (2014): 162–77.

Jonathan Padley . “Marginal(ized) Demarcator: (Mis)Reading The Water-Babies .” Children's Literature Quarterly 34.1 (2009): 5164.

Erin Sheley . “The Laws of Nature or Nature's God? Penal Authority in Charles Kingsley's The Water-Babies .” Children's Literature Association Quarterly 37.2 (2012): 133–52.

Jessica Straley . “Of Beasts and Boys: Kingsley, Spencer, and the Theory of Recapitulation.” Victorian Studies 49.4 (2007): 583609.

Naomi Wood . “A (Sea) Green Victorian: Charles Kingsley and The Water-Babies .” Lion and the Unicorn 19.2 (1995): 233–52.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 11
Total number of PDF views: 33 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 128 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 13th February 2017 - 25th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.