Silas K Hocking was one of the best selling Victorian author. He was the first ever author to sell a million of his books in his lifetime
Silas Hocking was born in 1850 in St Stephen-in-Brannel near St Austell. His father was a tenant on a small farm called Broadmoor owned by the Boconnoc Estate. There seems to be little written about his childhood, and he re-surfaces as a Methodist minister first in Manchester and Liverpool and then in Southport, where he preached to full houses for thirteen years.
Whilst he was working in the north of England, he wrote “Her Benny”, the story of Victorian Liverpool street urchins. Her Benny was Hocking's second novel. He wrote it in 1879 and sold its copyright for only £20. It appeared first as a serial and then in book form. It was an instant best-seller, translated into many languages and selling more than one million copies.
In 1895, Hocking retired from the ministry to to become a full time writer. In total, he wrote fifty books, including a volume of autobiography. He also became editor of several magazines. His brother, Joseph, and sister, Salome, also became best selling novelists.
As an aspiring Liberal politician he unsuccessfully contested the Aylesbury division of Buckinghamshire in 1906 and Coventry in January 1910.
The Hockings were popular among working-class communities throughout the English-speaking world in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Their fame vanished as quickly as it came, and today they are largely forgotten, but they did give rise to a genre called 'pulp methodism'.
In all, Hocking wrote fifty books, including his autobiography, My Book of Memory (1923). Amongst his best-selling titles are: Alec Green (1878), Her Benny (1879), Caleb Carthew (1884), In Spite of Fate (1897), Gripped (1902) and Who Shall Judge (1910)
Pulp Methodism: The Lives and Literature of Silas, Joseph and Salome Hocking, Three Cornish Novelists
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