Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine
(1853-1931) was a best-selling writer. His novels, some of which were set in
the Isle of Man, sold by the million, were made into plays and films, and were
translated into many languages, It is surprising that today he is hardly known
and that none of his books are currently in print.
Hall Caine was born
of Manx (on his father's side) and Cumberland
parentage at Runcorn, Cheshire
and was educated in Liverpool. He was trained
as an architectural draughtsman, but became a journalist and gradually took up
literary work. He lived with D. G. Rossetti as secretary and companion for the
last year of Rosetti's life.
After publishing Recollections of Rossetti
(1882), Sonnets of Three Centuries (1883) and Cobwebs of Criticism (1883) he
began his career as a novelist. Six of his novels were set in the Isle of Man. The Christian was
his best-selling novel and was translated into most European languages. The
first of his books to sell over a million copies, it
was staged and twice filmed.
He edited King Albert's Book (1914-1915) and
in 1928 issued an enlarged version of his Recollections of Rossetti. His Life
of Christ was published posthumously in 1938.
He went to Russia in 1891 at the request of
the Chief Rabbi, and described his experiences in The
Times. In 1895 he went to Canada
for the Society of Authors and the Colonial Office to negotiate for the
introduction of copyright protection in the dominion.
He moved his residence permanently to the Isle of Man in 1895 and was elected to the Manx House of
Keys in 1903. He was made a Knight of the British Empire in 1918, a Companion
of Honour in 1922 and granted the Freedom of the
Borough of Douglas in 1929. He was created an
Officer of the Order of Leopold by the Belgian King in 1917.
He died in his home at Greeba
Castle in the Isle
of Man on 31