Life:Kingsley was born in Holne, Devon, the elder of two sons of the Reverend Charles Kingsley and his wife Mary Lucas Kingsley. His brother, Henry Kingsley, also became a novelist. He spent his childhood in Clovelly, Devon, where his father was Curate 1826-1832 and Rector 1832-1836, and at Barnack, Northamptonshire and was educated at Bristol Grammar School and Helston Grammar School before studying at King's College London, and the University of Cambridge. Charles entered Magdalene College, Cambridge, in 1838, and graduated in 1842. He chose to pursue a ministry in the church. From 1844, he was rector of Eversley in Hampshire. In 1859 he was appointed chaplain to Queen Victoria. In 1860, he was appointed Regius Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge. In 1861 he became a private tutor to the Prince of Wales.
In 1869 Kingsley resigned his Cambridge professorship and, from 1870 to 1873, was a canon of Chester Cathedral. While in Chester he founded the Chester Society for Natural Science, Literature and Art, which played an important part in the establishment of the Grosvenor Museum. In 1872 he accepted the Presidency of the Birmingham and Midland Institute and became its 19th President. In 1873 he was made a canon of Westminster Abbey. Kingsley died in 1875 and was buried in St Mary's Churchyard in Eversley.
Kingsley sat on the 1866 Edward Eyre Defence Committee along with Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin, Charles Dickens and Alfred Lord Tennyson, where he supported Jamaican Governor Edward Eyre's brutal suppression of the Morant Bay Rebellion against the Jamaica Committee.
One of his daughters, Mary St Leger Kingsley, became known as a novelist under the pseudonym "Lucas Malet".
Kingsley's life was written by his widow in 1877, entitled Charles Kingsley, his Letters and Memories of his Life.
Kingsley also received letters from Thomas Huxley in 1860 and later in 1863, discussing Huxley's early ideas on agnosticism.