By Dinah Mulock Craik
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year:2010
Online Publication Date:August 2011
Original Publication Year:1858
Subjects: Sociology of gender
Dinah Craik (1826–1887) was a prolific writer of fiction, poetry and essays. She was best known for her novels, which appropriated well-worked narratives of individuals triumphing over adversity through hard work and moral integrity against a backdrop of industrialisation and the ascent of the middle classes. The most successful, John Halifax, Gentleman, tells the tale of a boy who works his way out of poverty. Craik herself was familiar with hardship: her father Thomas Mulock, a nonconformist minister, had spent periods confined to a lunatic asylum, and abandoned his children after his wife's death in 1854. In this work (originally published serially in Chambers's Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts), Craik provided support and advice for single women like herself. She was highly critical of learned helplessness and advocated independence and cross-class sympathy, believing women should 'lead active, intelligent, industrious lives: lives complete in themselves'.