Catholic literary revival

The Catholic literary revival is a term that has been applied to a movement towards explicitly Catholic allegiance and themes among leading literary figures in France[1] and England,[2] roughly in the century from 1860 to 1960. This often involved conversion to Catholicism or a conversion-like return to the Catholic Church. Due to the influence of Catholic literature from England in the United States,[3] the concept of "Catholic revival" is sometimes extended to include American authors such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, J. F. Powers and Flannery O'Connor.


French authors sometimes grouped in a Catholic literary revival include Léon Bloy, J. K. Huysmans, Charles Péguy,[4] Paul Claudel, Georges Bernanos and François Mauriac,[5] as well as the philosopher Jacques Maritain.[6]


The main figures who have been seen as constituting a revival of a leading Catholic presence in national literary life in England include John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton, Robert Hugh Benson, Ronald Knox, Graham Greene, and Evelyn Waugh. Of these, Belloc was the only writer raised a Catholic, the others all being adult converts.

J.R.R. Tolkien, although a convinced Catholic, "is not generally perceived to be one of the key protagonists of the Catholic literary revival".[7] In his writing, his own Catholic convictions and his use of Catholic themes are far less explicit than was the case for the other writers mentioned. There is, however, a growing tendency to look at Tolkien within the English Catholic literary tradition of his time.[8]

Although distinct, a movement towards explicit religious loyalty and themes in Anglican and Anglo-Catholic writers such as T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers is sometimes linked to the Catholic literary revival as a broader phenomenon.[9]


  1. ^ Richard Griffiths, The Reactionary Revolution: The Catholic Revival in French Literature 1870-1914 (Constable, 1966).
  2. ^ Ian Ker, The Catholic Revival in English Literature (1845–1961): Newman, Hopkins, Belloc, Chesterton, Greene, Waugh (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003).
  3. ^ Arnold Sparr, To Promote, Defend, and Redeem: The Catholic Literary Revival and the Cultural Transformation of American Catholicism, 1920-1960 (Greenwood Press, 1990).
  4. ^ Brian Sudlow, Catholic Literature and Secularization in France and England, 1880-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2011).
  5. ^ Martin Turnell, "A Catholic Literary Revival", The Spectator, 14 January 1966.
  6. ^ The Maritain Factor: Taking Religion into Interwar Modernism, edited by Rajesh Heynickx and Jan De Maeyer (Leuven University Press, 2010).
  7. ^ Joseph Pearce, Catholic Literary Giants: A Field Guide to the Catholic Literary Landscape (Ignatius Press, 2014), digital edition (pages unnumbered), chapter 38.
  8. ^ e.g. Owen Dudley Edwards, "Gollum, Frodo and the Catholic Novel", in A Hidden Presence: The Catholic Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Ian Boyd and Stratford Caldecott (2003).
  9. ^ Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief (Ignatius Press, 2006).
Cultural depictions of Philip II of Spain

Philip II of Spain has inspired artistic and cultural works for over four centuries, as the most powerful ruler in the Europe of his day, and subsequently a central figure in the "Black Legend" of Spanish power. The following list covers representations of him in drama, opera, film, novels, and verse. A small selection of the many artistic portrayals of Philip is shown in gallery form.

Literature of Birmingham

The literary tradition of Birmingham originally grew out of the culture of religious puritanism that developed in the town in the 16th and 17th centuries. Birmingham's location away from established centres of power, its dynamic merchant-based economy and its weak aristocracy gave it a reputation as a place where loyalty to the established power structures of church and feudal state were weak, and saw it emerge as a haven for free-thinkers and radicals, encouraging the birth of a vibrant culture of writing, printing and publishing.

The 18th century saw the town's radicalism widen to encompass other literary areas, and while Birmingham's tradition of vigorous literary debate on theological issues was to survive into the Victorian era, the writers of the Midlands Enlightenment brought new thinking to areas as diverse as poetry, philosophy, history, fiction and children's literature. By the Victorian era Birmingham was one of the largest towns in England and at the forefront of the emergence of modern industrial society, a fact reflected in its role as both a subject and a source for the newly dominant literary form of the novel. The diversification of the city's literary output continued into the 20th century, encompassing writing as varied as the uncompromising modernist fiction of Henry Green, the science fiction of John Wyndham, the popular romance of Barbara Cartland, the children's stories of the Rev W. Awdry, the theatre criticism of Kenneth Tynan and the travel writing of Bruce Chatwin.

Writers with roots in Birmingham have had an international influence. John Rogers compiled the first complete authorised edition of The Bible to appear in the English Language; Samuel Johnson was the leading literary figure of 18th century England and produced the first English Dictionary; J. R. R. Tolkien is the dominant figure in the genre of fantasy fiction and one of the bestselling authors in the history of the world; W. H. Auden's work has been called the greatest body of poetry written in the English Language over the last century; while notable contemporary writers from the city include David Lodge, Jim Crace, Roy Fisher and Benjamin Zephaniah.

The city also has a tradition of distinctive literary subcultures, from the Puritan writers who established the first Birmingham Library in the 1640s; through the 18th century philosophers, scientists and poets of the Lunar Society and the Shenstone Circle; the Victorian Catholic revival writers associated with Oscott College and the Birmingham Oratory; to the politically engaged 1930s writers of Highfield and the Birmingham Group. This tradition continues today, with notable groups of writers associated with the University of Birmingham, the Tindal Street Press, and the city's burgeoning crime fiction, science fiction and poetry scenes.

Émile Baumann

Émile Baumann (24 November 1868 – 24 November 1941) was a French writer.

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