Thomas Henry Hall Caine, 1853-1931

'The Manxman' from Vanity Fair 1896Born at Runcorn, Cheshire, 14 May 1853, to a Manx father and a Cumberland mother and brought up in Liverpool; however spent considerable time in his youth with uncle's family in Ballaugh and Manx grandmother. Also spent some time helping a schoolmaster uncle at Kirk Maughold.

Consumate self publicist and not always entirely truthful - not for nothing did Vivien Allen choose the punning subtitle "Portrait of a Victorian Romancer" for her biography. Hall Caine's own biography "My Story" contains few hard facts and where his early connection with the Island is concerned is somewhat misleading.

At times he postured as more Manx than the Manx who, though they elected him MHK for many years, were deeply suspicious of him and never warmed to him. Caine would appear to have recognised this for in his note to "Recollections of Rossetti" he writes of this Manx Schoolmastering period 'I had few books of poetry and I had none of fiction, for what we afterwards called the Nonconformist conscience had already penetrated our bleak solitude and our seniors had no place for the authors who (as an unforgiving Manxman in later years said of myself) "earned their living by telling lies".' Samuel Norris, another comeover, who had personal memories of Hall Caine barely conceals his dislike in his joint biography of Caine and the undoubtedly greater T.E.Brown (another writer who, though definitely Manx born, was treated with suspicion as 'laughing at the Manx'.)

For a thirty year period from c.1890 his novels, generally running to well over 300 pages sold in their 100,000s - his plays were also successful in the Edwardian theatre and he was by far and away the most highly paid novelist of his day. His friendship of Rossetti in his final drug-problemed years also gives Caine a claim to fame. For details of his friendship with 'Jack the Ripper' see Vivien Allen's excellent biography.


Hall Caine's early 'married' life was unconventional, whilst staying in London in 1882 with a bachelor friend, the two had their evening meals brought in from a nearby coffee shop. The two young girls who worked there formed an attachment to the young journalists - this was exploited by the girls' fathers to pressurise the pair into making 'honest women' of the pair. Although it is likely that only mild flirting had taken place, his friend Robinson agreed to marry his girl but Caine was left with the 13 year old Mary Chandler, who however adored him. Whilst he could legally marry her, Caine felt she was too young (and very likely he was not in the mood to marry) but did offer to pay for her education (yet another theme that landed up in his novels). However in December 1882 Mary's stepfather threw her out and Hall Caine took her into his small lodgings. Like Hall Caine, who was small at 5'3", Mary too was small, pretty and with a charming voice; many of his friends assumed that he too had bowed to pressure and married her. Soon afterwards he sent her to Sevenoaks to acquire some schooling and spent his free weekends with her. To keep her company he allowed his young sister Lily, then aged 13, to stay with her - she was sworn to secrecy so that news of this strange arrangement did not leak back to his Baptist chapel-going parents in Liverpool. Lily and Mary became lifelong friends and Lily, who adored her elder brother, kept her promise and no news leaked out until Hall Caine told them himself. As might be expected Mary became pregnant in 1884 at the age of 14 - by April, Mary and a housekeeper were installed at a house in Hampstead (Hall Caine found new lodgings near the Law Courts) and Ralph Hall Caine was born 15 August 1884. Delaying registering the birth for a month Hall Caine perjured himself by describing the mother as "Mary Alice Caine, formerly Chandler" - they were not actually to marry until 3 September 1886, by declaration in Edinburgh, so that Hall Caine could avoid any bad publicity. Even then he romanced somewhat, giving her age as 23 whereas she was only 17 to his 33.

Greeba Castle

Greeba Castle

Hall Caine moved to the Island in 1894. Initially the Caines rented Greeba Castle (not a castle but one of a pair of castellated houses built 1849 and designed by John Robinson of Douglas) standing above the Douglas-Peel road. They later took a house in Peel before buying Greeba Castle (by then in a poor state of repair) in 1896 which remained his home until his death in 1931.

His house became, like those of today's Hollywood stars, a place for tourists to gawp at - many postcards both of the house and/or Hall Caine were issued. An interesting comment on the back of that illustrated says "on way back passed the owner, funny looking chap"!

Mr and Mrs Hall Caine, c.1909

His architectural training was used in his remodelling of the house - the old door in the south face approached by steep steps was replaced by a new one on the west face approached by a terrace. This explains the drive shown above which apparently terminates at some windows. He and his wife were often photographed on this balustraded terrace, or as he called it 'the piazza'.

Hall Caine was knighted in 1918.


Some connection to Hall Caine is claimed by many of Manx descent (though I have seldom heard the same claim made on the Island!).

The family at Ballaugh described by Hall Caine in his autobiography with whom he stayed, at the impressionable age of 5, for the summer of 1858, following the birth of his sister were as given in 1851 census:

Isabella Cain widow, (Hall Caine's paternal Grandmother) 64
William Cain , head of family, unmarried Butcher, (his uncle) 30 [sic - should be 39 or 40 - his age was correctly reported in 1841 census]
James Cain , unmarried Stone Mason, 27
Eliza, unmarried, 15.

Hall Caine's grandparents William and Isabel Clarke married at Ballaugh 18 June 1811 and had the following 10 children (dates bapt or birth)


7 May 1812

Butcher Uncle

Anne Jane

20 Feb 1814



21 Jan 1816

N Crowe suggest died young as not mentioned in father's will


16 Nov 1818



23 Jan 1821

Hall Caine's father


11 Jan 1824



15 Jan 1826



17 Mar 1829

married James Teare - the schoolmaster uncle


3 Aug 1832


Margaret Eliza

29 Jun 1836


John Caine (b 1821, d 1906) married Sarah Hall (b 1829, d.1912) by whom he had six children

Thomas Henry Hall (b.14 May 1853, d. 31 Aug 1931)
John James (b. 21 Sep 1855, d. 2 Apr 1877)
Sarah Jane (b. 21 Jan 1858, d. 16 Mar 1863)
Emma (b. 7 Apr 1862 d. 27 Jun 1863)
William Ralph Hall (b 5 Feb 1865, d. 14 Jan 1939; m 1904 Mary Elizabeth Levy (widow) no issue); William RH Caine became a journalist, wrote "The Isle of Man" for A.C.Black and acted a a publicist for Manx Tourism
Elizabeth Ann (Lily) b 13 Dec 1869 d. 31 May 1914; m. George David Day 5 Mar 1896 - one son David Day) Lily often acted in Hall Caine's plays

Grandfather William died 1844, Isabella on 28 Jan 1866 after which Hall Caine spent his summer holidays with his Aunt Catherine Teare. His aunt Catherine had married James Teare at Braddan on 23 October 1858. James was schoolmaster at Maughold 1861-1870; they had 6 children before James died from tuberculosis in December 1871.

It was the death of his beloved maternal grandfather, Ralph Hall, in January 1870, that affected him deeply - towards the end of 1870 he gave up his job as draughtsman in an Architect's office in Liverpool and went to stay with his aunt. As James Teare was already seriously ill, Hall Caine's arrival was welcomed as he could assist in the school. He stayed on the Island for over a year - restoring a deserted tholtan near the school as his Aunt's house would be somewhat crowded. It is the insights and material which he acquired at this time that he would recycle in his later Manx stories - much to the annoyance of those who recognised themselves. He did however fall in love with Maughold Head, even to the extent of buying, in 1909, a plot on the head for his grave, but when in 1931 shortly before his death he found he could not manage the climb (and disliking the thought that others would not then make the pilgrimage to it that he hoped for) he bought a plot in Maughold yard where one can see the huge memorial stone.


Punch in 1909 made fun of the common complaint that Hall Caine's stories were all variations on the same theme. His passion for visiting countries with an eye for self advertisment is also mocked in the 1902 Punch cartoon

Punch 1902 cartoon
From Coronation issue and part of a supposed Gala Performance for their Majesties; item eleven in the programme is "Mr. Rudyard Kipling, in his universal athletic costume, will recite a New and Original Epochmaker, entitled, The Chantey of the Nations."


Vivien Allen Hall Caine Portrait of a Victorian Romancer Sheffield Academic Press (ISBN 1-85075-809-3) 1997

Hall Caine My Story London: William Heinemann 1908

(see also introduction to his Master of Man)

C Fred Kenyon Hall Caine The Man and the Novelist London:Greening & Co 1901

N. Crowe Notes on the Ancestry of Hall Caine IoMFHSoc vol 14 #4 pp122-124 1992

S. Norris Two Men of Manxland Douglas:Norris Modern Press 1947

see also ILN 10 Oct 1891.


(only the major publications (or those with Manx interest) are given - fuller bibliographies in Cubbon or by Vivien Allen.

The Restoration of Ancient Buildings. Papers by William Morris, Samuel Huggins, J. J. Stevenson, etc., edited by T. H. Hall Caine. Royal Institution, Liverpool. 1877. Crown 8vo. 50 pp.

'Sonnets of Three Centuries; an anthology. [First edn.] London: Elliot Stock. 1881. pp. 332. 50 copies on handmade paper were published in 1882

An old Manx Bard. Liverpool Weekly Mercury. 1882.

Recollections of D. G. Rossetti. [First edn.] 1882.

Cobwebs of Criticism: a Review of the First Reviewers of the 'Lake,' ' Satanic,' and 'Cockney' Schools; by T. Hall Caine. [First edn. ] London: Elliot Stock. 1883. p. xxiv,266.

The Shadow of a Crime. [First edn.] London: Chatto & Windus. 1885.

She's All the World to Me: a Manx Novel, by T. Hall Caine. New York: Harper and Brothers. 1885. pp. 136. (Much was later recycled into the Deemster)

A Son of Hagar. [First edn.] London: Chatto & Windus. 1886. pp. 303.

Life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. [First edn.] London Walter Scott. 1887. pp. 154,xxi.

The Deemster : a romance. In 3 vols. [First edn.] London: Chatto & Windus. 1887. pp. vi,304

Some old Manx Customs. In Liverpool Mercury. 1888. (Deals with the Oie'l Voirrey, Hunting the Wren, etc.)

Ben-my-Chree : a drama (with Wilson Barrett). [First edn. ] 1888.

The Bondman : a New Saga. In 3 vols. [First edn.] London : Heinemann. 1890. pp. xi,254 (first appeared in installments in Isle of Man Times).

Little Manx Nation, [First edn.] London: Heinemann. 1891. pp. 159 (Three lectures delivered at the Royal Institution on Jan. 22, 29, and Feb. 5, 1891.)

The Scapegoat: a Romance. [First edn. ] London: Heinemann. 1891. pp. x,318.

Mary Magdalene, the new Apocrypha. 1891.

The Fate of Fenella. 3 vols. illustrated. 1892.

The Jew in Literature. The Author. June, 1892.

Cap'n Davy's Honeymoon; The Last Confession; The Blind Mother. [First edn.] London: Heinemann. 1893.

The Mahdi : or Love and Race. A Drama in Story. [First edn. ] London: James Clarke & Co. 1894. (100 copies only Reprinted from the Christmas Number of `The Christian World' for private circulation)

Little Man Island ; Scenes and specimen days in the Isle of Man. I.M.S.P. Co. Douglas. 1894. pp. 50. Illus.

The Manxman. [First edn. ] London: Heinemann. 1894. pp. vi,439.

Graih my Chree, a poem. Lyra Celtica, ed. by E. A. Sharp and J. Matthay. pp. 309-314. [4192, j 8]

Graih my Chree (a Manx Ballad). In London Home Monthly, March 1895. London : Horace Cox. 1895. pp. 33-48

Jan the Icelander. In Home Sweet Home. (100 copies only.) 1896.

The Christian. A story. London: Heinemann. 1897. pp. iv,453 Illus (The Christian. First appeared in Windsor Mag. as a serial commencing in Dec. 1896).

T. E. Brown : in Memoriam. In LRI.T. 1897.

The Christian: a drama. London: Horace Cox. 1898. pp. 106.

The Eternal City. London: Heinemann. 1901. pp. vi,606.. (first appeared in The Lady's Mag. ]

Letters and Speeches on Manx Politics. Douglas : S.K,B 1903. pp. 72. (The speeches, letters, and articles which make up the pamphlet were gathered together for publication immediately after the date of Mr. Hall Caine's election to the House of Keys as representative for Ramsey, Thomas Cowley, April 10, 1903.)

The Prodigal Son. [First edn.] London : Heinemann. 1904. pp. viii,426.

The Prodigal Son. A drama in four acts, by Hall Caine. [First edn.] Heinemann. 1905. pp. viii,252. (This play was performed for copyright purposes at the Grand Theatre, Douglas, on Nov. 2, 1904)

The Prodigal Son: a novelised version of Mr. Hall Caine's Play; by S. R. Squires. Derby: Bacon & Hudson. c. 1905.

Drink : a love story on a great question. Illus. by Cyrus Cuneo. London: George Newnes. 1906. pp. v,118.

The Bondman Play. The Daily Mail. 1906. pp. xvi,240. Illus.

Pete : a Drama in four acts. By Hall Caine and Louis N. Parker. Dramatised from 'Mr. Hall Caine's novel 'The Manxman.' London: Collier & Co. 1908. pp. iv,164.

My Story. London: Heinemann. 1908. pp. xiii,406. +Portrait (first appeared In English Writers of To-day series. No. 4. In M.A.P. April 18th to Sept. 19th, 1908.

The Bishop's Son. A new Drama in four acts. Printed for private circulation. London. 1910. pp. viii,88

The Drama of Three Hundred and Sixty-five Days : scenes of the Great War. Heinemann. 1915. pp. 127. (Reprinted, with additions, from The Daily Telegraph.)

Our Girls Hutchinson 1916 pp127 + 15 ilustrations

The Master of Man; the story of a sin. [First edn.] London : Heinemanm. 1921. pp. viii,432.

The Woman Thou Gavest Me. 1921.

The Woman of Knockaloe. A parable. London : Cassell Co. 1923. pp. xvi,208. (later re-issued as Barbed Wire)

Graih my Chree. In Lyra Celtica, 2nd edn. 1924, p. 309, with biog. note p. 442.


 Manx Note Book Index


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001