William Inge (priest)

William Inge (priest)
William Ralph Inge
Born 6 June 1860
Crayke, Yorkshire, England
Died 26 February 1954
Wallingford, England
Education Eton College and King's College, Cambridge
Spouse Mary Catharine Inge
Children Paula Inge
Church Church of England
Writings over 35 books
Title Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral

William Ralph Inge (play /ˈɪŋ/;[1] 6 June 1860 – 26 February 1954) was an English author, Anglican priest, professor of divinity at Cambridge, and Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, which provided the appellation by which he was widely known, "Dean Inge."



He was born at Crayke, Yorkshire, England. His father was William Inge (a provost at Worcester College, Oxford) and his mother Susanna (Churton) Inge. His maternal grandfather was the archdeacon of Cleveland. Inge was educated at Eton College, where he was a King's Scholar and Newcastle Scholar, and at King's College, Cambridge, where he won a number of prizes as well as taking firsts in both parts of the classical tripos.[2] He was a tutor at Hertford College, Oxford starting in 1888, which was the year he was ordained as a deacon in the Church of England.

In 1907, he became a professor of divinity at Jesus College, Cambridge, holding the Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity chair. In 1911, was chosen by Prime Minister Asquith to be the Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He served as president of the Aristotelian Society at Cambridge from 1920 to 1921. Inge then became a columnist for the Evening Standard, a position he would hold until 1946—a period of 25 years. Inge was also a trustee of London's National Portrait Gallery from 1921 until 1951. He had retired from the Church in 1934.

He held Honorary Doctorates of Divinity from Oxford & Aberdeen Univeristites, an Hon. Doctorate of Literature from both Durham and Sheffield Universities, an Hon. LL.D., from both Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities, and was a Honorary fellow of Kings and Jesus Colleges, Cambridge and of Hertford College, Oxford. He was a Fellow of the British Academy. (See title page of Christian Ethics & Modern Problems).


Inge's wife, Mary Catharine, was the daughter of Henry Maxwell Spooner. She died in 1949.[3] His daughter, Paula, developed type 1 diabetes before insulin was widely available in the UK and died aged 14. Inge spent his later life in Brightwell near Wallingford, where he died on 26 February 1954.


Inge was a prolific author. In addition to scores of articles, lectures and sermons, he also wrote over 35 books.[4] He is best known for his works on Plotinus and neoplatonic philosophy, and on Christian mysticism. He was a strong proponent of a spiritual type of religion—"that autonomous faith which rests upon experience and individual inspiration"—as opposed to one of coercive authority; so he was outspoken in his criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church. His thought, on the whole, represents a blending of traditional Christian theology with elements of Platonic philosophy. He shares this much with one of his favorite writers, Benjamin Whichcote, the first of the Cambridge Platonists. In addition to this he was also a Eugenicist and wrote considerably on the subject. In his book Outspoken Essays he devotes an entire chapter to this subject.

He was nicknamed The Gloomy Dean because of his pessimistic views in his Evening Standard articles and he is remembered as a supporter of animal rights[citation needed].


The following bibliography is a selection taken from Adam Fox's biography Dean Inge.

  • Christian Mysticism (Bampton Lectures) 1899
  • Faith and Knowledge 1904
  • Studies of English Mystics 1905
  • Truth and Falsehood in Religion 1906
  • Personal Idealism and Mysticism (Paddock Lectures) 1906
  • All Saints' Sermons 1907
  • Faith and its Psychology (Jowett Lectures) 1909
  • Speculum Animae 1911
  • The Church and the Age 1912
  • Types of Christian Saintliness 1915
  • The Philosophy of Plotinus 2 vols. (Gifford Lectures) 1918. ISBN 1-59244-284-6 (softcover), ISBN 0-8371-0113-1 (hardcover)
  • Outspoken Essays I 1919 & II 1922
  • Personal Religion and the Life of Devotion 1924
  • Lay Thoughts of a Dean 1926
  • The Platonic Tradition in English Religious Thought 1926 ISBN 0-8414-5055-2
  • The Church in the World 1927
  • Assessments and Anticipations 1929
  • Christian Ethics and Modern Problems 1930
  • More Lay Thoughts of a Dean 1931
  • Things New and Old 1933
  • God and the Astronomers 1933
  • Our Present Discontents 1938 ISBN 0-8369-2846-6
  • A Pacifist in Trouble 1939 ISBN 0-8369-2192-5
  • The Fall of the Idols 1940
  • Talks in a Free Country 1942 ISBN 0-8369-2774-5
  • Mysticism in Religion 1947 ISBN 0-8371-8953-5
  • The End of an Age 1948
  • Diary of a Dean 1949
  • Light, Life and Love (Selections from the German mystics of the Middle Ages) 1904 available online from Project Gutenberg and CCEL

See also


  • Adam Fox Dean Inge.
  • Robert Helm The Gloomy Dean.


  1. ^ Inge - Definitions from Dictionary.com
  2. ^ William Inge (priest) in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.
  3. ^ See Portraits of Mary Catharine Inge.
  4. ^ Gifford Biography

External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Frederick Huntington Gillett
Cover of Time Magazine
24 November 1924
Succeeded by
Chauncey M. Depew

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