Victorian Popular Fictions 5.2 5 Guyton


Marvellous Conquests: The Adventures of Christianity and Astronomy in the Boy’s Own Paper (1889–1900)

Adele Guyton

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This article argues two things about astronomy in the fiction of the Boy’s Own Paper (BOP) in the long 1890s: that astronomy is used to inspire muscular Christian moral improvement, broadly understood, and that we should understand this representation as enabled by the state of contemporary astronomy. At the close of the century, astronomy was an extremely popular science, and the locus of astronomical authority was unclear, permitting a wide variety of ideological positions within popularisation. This article first employs close readings of astronomical passages in the BOP from the 1890s to show that writers link adventure and heroism in frontier spaces to astronomy by using its most popular and engaging features alongside uncontested facts. Second, a discussion of A Marvellous Conquest: A Story of the Bayouda (1889), a serialised scientific romance by André Laurie, further demonstrates that the most important aspect of the use of astronomy within the BOP’s didactic project is its resonances with muscular Christianity rather than its scientific accuracy for educational purposes.


Astronomy; The Boy’s Own Paper; muscular Christianity; scientific romance; periodical studies; adventure fiction; nautical fiction; literature and science; juvenile literature

Date of Acceptance: 16 December 2023

Date of Publication: 20 December 2023

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Guyton, Adele. 2023. “Marvellous Conquests: The Adventures of Christianity and Astronomy in the Boy’s Own Paper (1889–1900).” Victorian Popular Fictions, 5.2: 58-72. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online). DOI:

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