A study in family history and influence, Newman and his Family looks at how John Henry Newman (1801-90), the priest, educator, theologian, philosopher, novelist, poet and satirist both learned from and was transformed by his parents and his brothers and sisters. The son of a banker in the City of London and a Huguenot mother whose family were famous and innovative paper makers and printers, Newman was the eldest of six children, two boys and three girls--Charles, Harriett, Frank, Jemima and Mary. While the family was reared Anglican, Charles abandoned Christianity for Owenite Socialism and Frank ended his days a Unitarian. Although Mary died young, she had a profound influence on her brother, as did Harriett, who could never reconcile herself to her brother's conversion. Jemima was also opposed to his conversion, though she lived long enough to witness (from afar) his strange, tumultuous new life as a Catholic. At the same time, since none of the family followed their eldest brother into the Catholic Church, to which Newman converted in 1845, the book also explores the limitations of Newman's influence and the ways in which family differences led him to a deeper understanding of such themes as home and ostracism, failure and faith, conversion and apostasy, disunity and prayer, infirmity and love. Based on Newman's vast correspondence and the correspondence of his different family members, as well as on his published and unpublished writings, Newman and his Family presents the great religious thinker in a freshly personal light, where he can be seen sharing his theological and philosophical convictions directly with those to whom he was most closely tied. While there are excellent studies available on different aspects of Newman and his work, this is the first full-length study to show how the difficulties and heartbreaks inherent in family life helped Newman to understand not only himself and his contemporaries but his deeply personal Christian faith.
As in his first book, Edward Short artfully portrays here the personal influences that formed the character and mind of John Henry Newman. Where Newman and His Contemporaries successfully re-positioned the man among a constellation of his cultural and literary fellows, Newman and His Family charts out the shifting angles and dimensions of a tighter, more powerful ring of influences around the Victorian sage: his father, mother, brothers, sisters, and nephew. Again, Short's well-wrought chapters, with their characteristic grace, aplomb, and light-borne wit, bring a much-wanted human richness to our understanding of a man we are only beginning to know. -- Dwight Lindley, Assistant Professor of English, Hillsdale College, USA Newman and his Family is a psychological and spiritual voyage around the great Cardinal in the often fraught context of his familial relationships, which will be fascinating equally to Catholics, other faiths and unbelievers. Newman himself said that there was nothing more interesting than the ten thousand little details and complications of daily life and family history. With the wisdom of empathy, Edward Short's gift is to let us hear Newman speak in his own voice, so distant from our own times and yet still so immediate. In this meticulously researched and lovingly written book, Newman has found his ideal biographer. -- Angela Thirlwell, Author of 'William and Lucy: the other Rossettis' and 'Into the Frame: the four loves of Ford Madox Brown' Newman and his Family is one of the most remarkable books I have read in many years. For newcomers it presents Newman from within, as he really was. For those already familiar with Newman's writings, Edward Short brings informed, refreshing, always original, and sometimes provocative insight into the greatest English religious figure of his time and ours. Here is Newman as understood by, and not understood by his family--and what a family! This often gripping book deserves to find a wide readership. I suspect it will become a classic. -- Dermot Fenlon, The Birmingham Oratory, UK an important, fascinating, and well-researched exploration of the family context and influence on Newman's life and thought. -- Geoffrey Rowell The Church Times 20131202 Short manages a fresh perspective on a much written subject. Analysing Newman's relations with his family - none of whom followed him into Rome - he illuminates not only Newman's religious development but that of his whole age... [This is] an elegant and erudite book, showing how Newman struggled in his thought to respond to his relatives view whilst answering "the call of charity" to them. It will benefit any level of university student or intelligent layperson who reads it. -- Christopher Villiers The Theological Review 20131202 Short's book is excellent, at once both scholarly and moving. It gives deep and original insights into a man and a family whose tragedies and tensions were emblematic of their age. This is a volume which does not simply enrich our understanding of Newman; it also brings a human note to the larger religious and political dramas of Victorian England and thus to the background of this, our present age. One can hardly wait for the third volume to see what Short will make of the critics, especially the unfortunate Charles Kingsley, doomed to be forever remembered as the immediate cause of Newman's finest literary hour. -- Carl R. Trueman First Things 20131231
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