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Essentially the book covers the life of Robert Elsmere, a boyishly intellectual clergyman. The first part covers his meeting with and eventual marriage to Catherine Leyburn. After a period as a country vicar, Robert’s meetings with the local squire, an intellectual atheist, lead to his having a crisis of faith. The pair move to London where Robert works with the poor and uneducated. The lives of the people closely associated with the pair are also covered.

The book is set against the late Victorian world and its reactions to Darwinism, Unitarianism and the rise of secularism and modernism. At the time, it was a runaway best seller and its attack on orthodox Christianity was fiercely debated by all, including Gladstone. - Summary by Simon Evers

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Robert Elsmere - Mary Augusta Ward - Mary Augusta Ward

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