Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890) was one of the most eminent and controversial figures of the nineteenth century. His influence spread far beyond the country of his birth, the century in which he lived, and the Church in which he ended his life: he is not only of great importance in the history of religious thought but is known to a much wider circle for his hymns, his books, the text of Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius and the Oratories he founded in Birmingham and London. His religious thought laid the foundations for the second Vatican Council. He is widely loved and remembered by Catholics and non-Catholics alike as a saintly and gentle figure: yet his conversion to the Church of Rome sparked off one of the bitterest and more divisive controversies of the Victorian age, and one which lost him friends and respect, and was to sever him from his beloved University of Oxford. Brian Martin's sympathetic study combines biography with a critical assessment of Newman's achievements. He takes us through from Newman's birth in London and his school-days in Ealing to his death in the Birmingham Oratory, by way of his brilliant university career in Oxford, his leading part as an Anglican clergyman in the Oxford Movement, his conversion to Roman Catholicism, his involvement in the foundation of the National University of Ireland, and his eventual elevation to the Cardinalate. Unlike previous biographies, Dr Martin has made full use of the extensive Letters and Diaries so as to bring out the human side of this saintly man. His major works, such as his great autobiography, Apologia pro Vita sua, and his novel, Loss and Gain, are discussed in the context of his life.
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