The Catholic literary revival is a term that has been applied to a movement towards explicitly Catholic allegiance and themes among leading literary figures in France and England, roughly in the century from 1860 to 1960. This often involved conversion to Catholicism or a conversion-like return to the Catholic Church. Due to the influence of Catholic literature from England in the United States, the concept of "Catholic revival" is sometimes extended to include American authors such as Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Walker Percy, J. F. Powers and Flannery O'Connor.
French authors sometimes grouped in a Catholic literary revival include Léon Bloy, J. K. Huysmans, Charles Péguy, Paul Claudel, Georges Bernanos and François Mauriac, as well as the philosopher Jacques Maritain.
The main figures who have been seen as constituting a revival of a leading Catholic presence in national literary life in England include John Henry Newman, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton, Robert Hugh Benson, Ronald Knox, Graham Greene, and Evelyn Waugh. Of these, Belloc was the only writer raised a Catholic, the others all being adult converts.
J.R.R. Tolkien, although a convinced Catholic, "is not generally perceived to be one of the key protagonists of the Catholic literary revival". In his writing, his own Catholic convictions and his use of Catholic themes are far less explicit than was the case for the other writers mentioned. There is, however, a growing tendency to look at Tolkien within the English Catholic literary tradition of his time.
Although distinct, a movement towards explicit religious loyalty and themes in Anglican and Anglo-Catholic writers such as T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers is sometimes linked to the Catholic literary revival as a broader phenomenon.
- Richard Griffiths, The Reactionary Revolution: The Catholic Revival in French Literature 1870-1914 (Constable, 1966).
- Ian Ker, The Catholic Revival in English Literature (1845–1961): Newman, Hopkins, Belloc, Chesterton, Greene, Waugh (University of Notre Dame Press, 2003).
- Arnold Sparr, To Promote, Defend, and Redeem: The Catholic Literary Revival and the Cultural Transformation of American Catholicism, 1920-1960 (Greenwood Press, 1990).
- Brian Sudlow, Catholic Literature and Secularization in France and England, 1880-1914 (Manchester University Press, 2011).
- Martin Turnell, "A Catholic Literary Revival", The Spectator, 14 January 1966.
- The Maritain Factor: Taking Religion into Interwar Modernism, edited by Rajesh Heynickx and Jan De Maeyer (Leuven University Press, 2010).
- Joseph Pearce, Catholic Literary Giants: A Field Guide to the Catholic Literary Landscape (Ignatius Press, 2014), digital edition (pages unnumbered), chapter 38.
- e.g. Owen Dudley Edwards, "Gollum, Frodo and the Catholic Novel", in A Hidden Presence: The Catholic Imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Ian Boyd and Stratford Caldecott (2003).
- Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief (Ignatius Press, 2006).