Oxford Movement in English Literature – Meaning and Characteristics


The Oxford Movement was not just a literary movement but also a religious one that emerged during the Victorian Age in the 1830s. Specifically, it took place within the Church of England between the early and mid-19th century. It gets its title because it arose at the University of Oxford, with its aim to bring back elements of Anglican theology. 

Characteristics of the Oxford Movement


Pioneers of the movement published religious tracts referred to as “Tracts for the Times” during this time, preaching for a return to early Anglican theology. Because of this, the movement was also called ‘Tractarianism’. 

High Church Theology

This Anglican theology supported was essentially High Church theology or Anglo-Catholic theology. They wished to return supreme authority to the Church.

Opposition to Liberalism

Naturally, members of the movement were against liberalism. They stood for the traditional teachings and ideals of the Church and shunned any liberal ideas pertaining to religion.

Oxford Movement Major Poets List and Their Important Works 

John Henry Newman

Newman was a prominent member of the Oxford Movement. His magnum opus work would be “The Dream of Gerontius” which explored religious Christian ideas of Judgement Day and Afterlife. 

John Keble

Keble too was an eminent member. His collection of poems “The Christian Year” is known for its religious nature and Christian beliefs. 

Isaac Williams

Another notable member of the movement was Williams. He was, in fact, a renowned theologian whose contributions to “Tracts for the Times” were significant.


The Oxford Movement hence was more a religious than an artistic movement. Yet, it left its mark in the literature of the Victorian era and played an important role in shaping Anglicanism and Christianity in the 19th century.