This study examines the non-literary and non-aesthetic reasons underlying the bias in favour of realism in the formation of the traditional literary canon of 19th-century British fiction. It examines the role of the Anglican Church as well as that of nonconformist or dissenting evangelical sects in the educational institutions of the first half of the century, and the function of the academic study of English literature in British imperialist ideology in the latter part of the century. The author seeks to demonstrate that both Church and Empire needed a canon of realism to promote their own brand of conservative ideology. Victorian fantasy writers often targeted Church doctrine or imperial dogma for especially satirical treatment, thus insuring their own exclusion from the universities which were run by the Church and operated to supply patriotic administrators to the Empire. Examines in detail the ecclesiastical and political context of educational philosophy and how this context affected the reading curriculum and ultimately, the canon.