On a scrap of paper preserved in Yale University’s Beinecke Library, R. M. Ballantyne sketched the outline for a piece to be titled “How to Make a Man of a Boy.”1 After beginning with the question, “What is a man?” and differentiating between tenderness and “goodyness” (the former to be desired, the latter not), he ends with the note, “‘Muscular Christianity’ defend & expound.” Unfortunately nothing more follows, but while the imperative to “defend & expound” is unfulfilled, the invocation of “Muscular Christianity” aligns Ballantyne with the mid-century Victorian movement that advocated renewal of the attractions of faith for boys by combining it with an adventurous, physical masculinity.2 Ballantyne, known to Victorian readers for his boys’ adventure tales and, in particular, The Coral Island (1857), was a key purveyor of muscularity, adventure and empire: in The Coral Island, for example, we have British boys fighting cannibals and overcoming despotic chiefs, and Ballantyne relates incidents of Pacific Island depravity that are intended to highlight the physical and moral fortitude of his British boy heroes.3 Such details support a standard reading of the novel’s politics that critiques the text’s justification of imperialism as the bringing of white civility to brown savages. Less commented upon in scholarly analyses of the novel is Ballantyne’s relationship to the second term in “muscular Christianity”; that is, the role of his most well-known novel in reinforcing the need for religious faith, and the way in which this message functions through the book’s racial dynamics. Attention to the role of faith in imperialism complicates the neat bifurcations of

1 R. M. Ballantyne, “How to Make a Man of a Boy,” Holograph fragment, n.d., folder 5561, box 166, Series VII: Dusty Diamonds, Bryher Papers, GEN MSS 97, General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.