Victorian Jesus: J.R. Seeley, Religion, and the Cultural Significance of Anonymity
Ecce Homo: A Survey in the Life and Work of Jesus Christ, published anonymously in 1865, alarmed some readers and delighted others by its presentation of a humanitarian view of Christ and early Christian history. Victorian Jesus explores the relationship between historian J. R. Seeley and his publisher Alexander Macmillan as they sought to keep Seeley’s authorship a secret while also trying to exploit the public interest.
Ian Hesketh highlights how Ecce Homo's reception encapsulates how Victorians came to terms with rapidly changing religious views in the second half of the nineteenth century. Hesketh critically examines Seeley’s career and public image, and the publication and reception of his controversial work. Readers and commentators sought to discover the author’s identity in order to uncover the hidden meaning of the book, and this engendered a lively debate about the ethics of anonymous publishing. In Victorian Jesus, Ian Hesketh argues for the centrality of this moment in the history of anonymity in book and periodical publishing throughout the century.
- Series: Studies in Book and Print Culture
- Division: Scholarly Publishing
- World Rights
- Page Count: 288 pages
- Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
"…[a] careful and detailed study of the production, promotion, and reception of this mid-century, bestselling work…."
David Finkelstein (University of Edinburgh)
Canadian Journal of History
"The way the chapters on Seeley’s anonymity are written is so absorbing that, at times, I could even feel the tension provoked by his concealing the authorship of Ecce Homo from his family and colleagues. … Hesketh not only deals with the conception of history and its methodology emerging from Seeley’s books, but he also concretely shows the entanglement of morality, scientificity, and religious views in nineteenth-century Britain. His book will appeal to historians of the modern period … as well as to cultural and literary scholars interested in book history and in intellectual and religious history; all will find it a very accurate and at the same time captivating study. It could be described as the intersection between the biography of Seeley and the ‘biography’ of his Ecce Homo".
Laura Meneghello (Siegen University)
"A strength of Ian Hesketh’s Victorian Jesus is its insightful exploration of the entire phenomenon of anonymous publishing with all its rewards, pitfalls and changing conventions."
Timothy Larsen (Wheaton College)
Times Literary Supplement
"Victorian Jesus is a first first-rate piece of work, and is important for examining the intersection of the history of religious thought and the history of the book. It is a model of its kind for integrating print culture and the history of religious thought. I was deeply impressed."
Bernard Lightman, Department of Humanities, York University
"Hesketh deftly integrates book history and the study of religious culture into a compelling analysis of Seeley’s theological and historical writing. … Hesketh’s lively prose provides readers with penetrating and intriguing insights into Seeley’s career, the dynamics of literary marketing in mid-Victorian Britain, and the changing religious and ethical landscape of the second half of the nineteenth century. Victorian Jesus successfully utilizes its tightly focused scope to offer truly valuable insights to all students of Victorian Britain and is deserving of just such a broad audience."
Patrick J. Corbeil, St. Mary’s University, Calgary
"Victorian Jesus is unarguably a very significant and original contribution to the limited literature on Seeley, and Hesketh knows the Seeley and Macmillan papers inside out. This well well-written book is a specialised, but not at all a ‘hermetic’ volume and it should interest a very broad range of nineteenth-century scholars."
Michael Ledger-Lomas, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, King’s College
Author InformationIan Hesketh is an ARC Future Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Queensland.
Table of contents
Prologue: The Forgotten Story of Ecce Homo
Chapter 1: Authority and Authorship
Chapter 2: By the Author of Essays on the Church
Chapter 3: Father and Son
Chapter 4: The Victorian Jesus
Chapter 5: A Dangerous Book
Chapter 6: Vomited from the Jaws of Hell
Chapter 7: A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing
Chapter 8: Shrewd Conjecture
Chapter 9: White Lies
Chapter 10: Behold the Man
Chapter 11: Behold the Historian
Chapter 12: Fulfilling a Promise
Chapter 13: By the Author of Ecce Homo
Chapter 14: Remembering the Author of Ecce Homo
Epilogue: Anonymous Publishing and Universal History
Subjects and Courses