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Writing the Public Life

By Kevin J. Gardner

Hardback, 250 pages $59.95
Published: 1st October 2010
ISBN: 9781602582545
Format: 9in x 6in

Subjects: All Literature, Religion & Literature

A household name in Great Britain, John Betjeman was a public literary figure who openly declared his Christian faith and championed the social and aesthetic joys of Anglicanism as unique to English identity. Through poetry in  newspapers and on radio and television broadcasts, Betjeman celebrated the cultural significance of the Church of England well beyond its religious role. Although a steadfast proponent for Christianity and the Church, Gardner explains, Betjeman nevertheless struggled mightily to believe the faith, and he was forthcoming with his own spiritual failures. In this master study of his writings, Gardner deems Betjeman to be the poet of the Church of England—and demonstrates his works to be a vital part of Anglicanism’s living traditions.


1. Eternity Contained in Time
   The Paradoxes of Betjeman's Anglicanism
2. Doubt Inserts the Knife
   The Absence of God and the Anxiety of Eternity
3. In the Vapory Incense Veil
   Nature, Eros, and Spiritual Mystery
4. Dear Old, Bloody Old England
   Sacramental Politics and Anglican Pastoralism
5. The Chain-Smoking Millions and Me
   Anglican Culture and the Community of Faith


"Of all the commentators on John Betjeman and his works, Kevin Gardner seems to me the most acute."

—Bevis Hillier, author of the three-volume authorized biography of Betjeman and President of the Betjeman Society

“…fascinating to anyone interested in Anglican and Episcopal history.”

—David Hein, Hood College, Anglican and Episcopal History (82:4)

“Gardner convincingly asserts that Betjeman’s thinking and writing is constructed with the stuff of Anglicanism in all its diverse nature. It is a moving endorsement.”

—Anthony Thwaite, Order of the British Empire, Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

“Deserving of attention and respect, Betjemanis a discerning, detailed, and sustained unpeeling of the mentality of lay Anglicanism and a religious meditation on the legitimacy of doubt in a system of faith. A brilliant work by the supreme Betjeman scholar of our times.”

—Stephen Games

Kevin J. Gardner is Associate Professor of English at Baylor University. He is the editor of Faith and Doubt of John Betjeman: An Anthology of his Religious Verse. Gardner lives in Waco, Texas.

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 250 pages
 9in x 6in

  LIT004120, REL013000
 Baylor University Press

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