Political Views of English Writers

This is an omnibus thread to avoid repetition but what were the political views of the following writers?:

John Bunyan
Charles Dickens
CS Lewis
HG Wells

John Bunyan was a nonconformist Whig, who fought in the Parliamentary army as a young man.

Charles Dickens was a Radical, which was a name given to Left-Whigs.

I believe CS Lewis was a member of the Conservative Party, or at least had Conservative sympathies.

HG Wells was a socialist, who as a young man, was both a member of the Fabian Society and a candidate for MP in the Labour party, but he grew disillusioned with both because neither were far enough left for him.

Lewis’s political views may have been closer to that of the Conservative Party than any other British political party, but I don’t ever recall in anything I’ve read about him that he ever claimed to be a member of any political party (and I’ve read a lot both by and about him).

Bunyan was not a whig, but apolitical: his imprisonment was solely for religious nonconformity. Since there is considerable, and understandable, vagueness over his early career, it has even been speculated that he may have fought in the King’s Army rather than the parliamentary. Essentially he was a quietist.

Dickens was a radical when young, and a liberal when older, but not a whig since they were the party of aristocracy: he was never socialist, and remained an establishment man. He may have had more in common with Peel as a pragmatic and humanitarian tory than with either romantic Disraelian conservativism horrified at the conditions of the ‘Two Nations’ or the smug liberal libertarian economics geared to wealth of the time. He was driven by indignation and emotionalism.

Dunno about Lewis. THe Screwtape Letters would indicate a certain sceptibility about the innate perfectability of man…

Wells was a considerable socialist, but more on the [ passionate ] technocratic ‘Engineer of Human Souls’ type than an able theoretician or fighter: once you were in his utopia, you’d have no reason to complain nor ability to do so. It was all rather misty, like most idealism let alone the scientific variety; and he soured on the prospects of both humanity and the likelihood of people being intelligent enough to accept his directed utopia.

[ I think his short stories far better than his novels, or most short stories. ]

Actually in his Screwtype Letters the daemons see the rise of “Christian Socialism” as a defeat for them.

BTW what about Arthur C Clarke and JRR Tolkein?

George Orwell wrote a magnificent essay on what kind of man Dickens was, especially (as you might imagine) from a political perspective. Orwell, since you didn’t ask, was a cynical Socialist kept apart from the general run of the English Left by his early and vehement anti-Stalinism.

He wrote an essay about Wells with somewhat similar aims. Wells was a One-Worlder Utopian Technocratic Socialist, and no mistake.

‘Christian Socialism’ in the Charles Kingsley - F. D. Maurice mode was in no way affiliated with the left, nor would have been recognised by any part of the left as part of the Socialist Internationale. It was both liberal in the sense of moderately extending political rights and traditionalist in the sense of Squire and Pastor joined together to uplift the common man through Muscular Christianity.
Marx would have had a fit. Probably did several times. He was a bonny hater.

[ By the 1930s & '40s there was a lot of merging of christian sympathy with proto-socialism going about with earnest young clergymen with pipes and scarves chatting thoughtfully about The Way Ahead for the People and the Church combined. At it’s worst it led to openly communist fellow-travellers denouncing any hint that Stalin was not a very gentle knight, such as Hewlett Johnston, but in the main it was very well-meaning. And as pointless as most things.

Perhaps Lewis meant that sort of Christian Socialism… ]

Yes, it’s clear that Lewis wasn’t a leftist in any modern sense or in any sense of the times when he lived. He wasn’t a hardcore conservative either. My vague sense is that he was probably closer to the views of the Conservative Party than the Labour Party, but he wasn’t very far from the center. It would take a while going through everything he wrote to pick out his implicit political views, but in any case he never claimed to be a member of a political party and didn’t campaign for any strictly political causes.

He also wasn’t English. :slight_smile:

True, but he spent all of his life from about 16 on in England (except for the time in France in World War I). If someone is going to bring up his ancestry now, it came from all around the British Isles. If you’re going to consider Lewis as Irish, does that mean that you’re going to consider Tolkien as South African?

I didn’t say he was Irish either. Wiki describes him as an Irish born British writer which seems a tad more accurate than saying he’s an English (nationality) writer. :slight_smile:

He’s certainly an English-language writer, so “English writer” is correct if not unambiguous. By nationality he’s often called “Anglo-Irish,” but since apparently the Lewises ultimately came from Wales, I’d agree that “British” is the best descriptor.

I have read everything Lewis published except his academic works, and I agree with this. I recall at least one statement, probably in Mere Christianity, in which he suggested that a truly Christian society would look in some ways like a socialist one. I’ll see if I can dig it up.

Found it. He’s describing an imaginary “Christian society” and writes:

Not necessarily conclusive about his politics, although it may sum them up completely.

Just looked up some facts about Lewis’s life and, in fact, he spent nearly all his life from about age 9 on in England (again, except for the time in France during World War I). His father, probably like a lot of well-off Protestants in Ireland during that period, sent his two sons to English public schools (public in the British sense) for their education from an early age. All his travels to Ireland from then on were basically brief vacations to see his father.

For what it’s worth, the term “English” was used in the OP, not by me. I didn’t make any statement about it. I don’t find it particularly interesting to label people that way. Incidentally, although an ancestor with the last name “Lewis” ultimately came from Wales, that was only a small part of his ancestry, and other ancestors came from all over the British Isles, as I said.