Apologia Pro Vita Sua (A Defence Of His Life) by Cardinal Newman offers a marvellous insight into the mind of a devout Christian, a colossal figure of the nineteenth century. It is, moreover, one of the greatest spiritual autobiographies ever written in the English language, laying out the development of John Henry Newman's religious opinions up to the year 1845 when he finally converted to Roman Catholicism.
It was Charles Kingsley's withering and defamatory attack which prompted its writing, giving Newman 'ten weeks of anxious work', as he pieced together the evolution of his beliefs. Newman's beautiful prose has rightly been described as 'regal', the scholarly arguments are crystal clear and the structure reassuringly chronological; his utter demolition of Kingsley's accusations (especially that of untruthfulness) at the end of the Apologia is meticulous, inexorable and truly awe-inspiring. It is read by Greg Wagland.