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The Life and Afterlives of Captain Hedley Vicars: Evangelical Biography and the Crimean War

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Journal19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century
DateE-pub ahead of print - 13 May 2015
DatePublished (current) - 2015
Volume20
Number of pages20
Early online date13/05/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article argues that one of the most influential responses to the Crimean War, and indeed one of the most widely known books of the mid-century, was the work of a woman: the middle-class evangelical Miss Catherine Marsh’s biography of her friend Captain Hedley Vicars. In this book (first published in December 1855), she forged an image of Crimean heroism compatible with Christian piety and good works, and in doing so provided a valued point of connection and identification for many combatant and non-combatant readers. This article explores the ways in which Marsh drew on the resources of memoir and memorial, as well as on the immediacy of war correspondence and the flexibility of print culture, to celebrate a militarized Christianity and a Christian military. A text combining soldierly masculinity with evangelical expressiveness was, however, open to multiple reappropriations and interpretations. As the article goes on to explore, some responses to the Memorials of Captain Hedley Vicars of the 97th were straightforwardly affirmative; others sceptical, ambivalent, or even subversive.

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