Saturday 08 August 2020

Henry Kingsley

Henry Kingsley (1830-1876) wrote Stretton, an absorbing Victorian novel, in 1869 after he moved to Edinburgh to take over editorship of the Daily Review, a voice of the Free Church party.

The novel tells the story of families living on Shropshire country estates and focuses on the lives of Eleanor, a landowner, and six young men.

The Shropshire lads are followed through childhood in Church Stretton and Church Pulverbatch, through college (their greatest achievements being in playing pranks and rowing) and into adulthood when four of them are caught up in the Indian mutiny.

Eleanor is a feisty, kind-hearted woman with a biting wit and is described as a 'radiant beauty'. However, she believes that being married to her 800 acre farm in Church Pulverbatch is more desirable than marriage to a man.

It is a story of natal schemes, marital plots and inheritance intrigues, culminating in bravery and the ultimate sacrifice.

In the final third of the book, which is mostly about the Indian mutiny, the story continually jumps back to events in England.