The Ogilvies, 1849
The Head of the Family, 1852
Agatha’s Husband, 1853
John Halifax, Gentleman, 1856
A Life for a Life, 1859
Mistress and Maid, 1863
Christian’s Mistake, 1865
A Noble Life, 1866
Two Marriages, 1867
The Women’s Kingdom, 1869
A Brave Lady, 1870
The Laurel Bush, 1876
Young Mrs. Jardine, 1879
Avillion, and Other Tales, 1853
Nothing New, 1857
Romantic Tales, 1859
Domestic Stories, 1860
Lord Erlistoun, and Other Stories, 1864
The Unkind World, and Other Stories, 1870
Songs of Our Youth, 1875
Thirty Years, 1881
A Woman’s Thoughts About Women, 1858
Fifty Golden Years: Incidents in the Queen’s Reign, 1887 (biography)
Children’s/Young Adult Literature:
Alice Learmont: A Fairy Tale, 1853 (in A Hero, and Other Tales)
Little Sunshine’s Holiday, 1871
The Little Lychetts, and Other Stories, 1875
The Little Lame Prince and His Traveling Cloaks, 1875
Dinah Maria Mulock Craik was one of the many minor female novelists of nineteenth century England. Her father, Thomas Mulock, was something of ne’er-do-well. At the time of his daughter’s birth in 1826 he was operating in the capacity of a Nonconformist preacher at Stoke-on-Trent, but he soon left this calling for some nebulous business scheme, transferring the support of his family to his wife.
Mrs. Mulock, consequently, was forced to open a school in her home. She was assisted in this venture by her eldest daughter, Dinah, a precocious girl who had begun writing poetry at the age of ten. Mother and daughter continued to run the school until 1840, at which time Mrs. Mulock inherited a sizable fortune, and pedagogy was exchanged for travel. The entire family (Mr. Mulock had returned along with the inheritance) toured Europe for the next four years, and Dinah had the opportunity to study French, Italian, Greek, Latin, and even Erse (Gaelic).
In 1844 the unpredictable Thomas Mulock left home for good, and the remainder of the family settled in Staffordshire. The next year Mrs. Mulock died, leaving Dinah in charge of the younger children and the fortune.
Dinah, now nineteen, employed her talents in the writing of poems and stories for children. Four years later she turned to adult fiction with the production of The Ogilvies in 1849, a novel which she dedicated to her mother. After this effort, she produced some twenty more novels, not to mention sundry volumes of poems, tales, and children’s stories in the course of a career that reached its zenith with the publication of John Halifax, Gentleman in 1856. Mulock was married in 1864 to George Lillie Craik, a publisher eleven years her junior. She lived with him and, later, an adopted daughter at Corner House, Shortlands, Kent, until her death on October 12, 1887.
Overall, her reputation as a novelist is no greater than that of many somewhat dull and overly sentimental and didactic female (and male) fiction writers of Queen Victoria’s day. Yet in John Halifax, Gentleman she produced a work which makes demands upon the attention of the modern reader in its social idealism and its ethic of self-help. There has been a renewed interest in Mulock from a feminist point of view. Notably, her A Woman’s Thoughts About Women reflects her own experience of being the family breadwinner, and many of her other novels center on the problems of Victorian womanhood. She is remembered also as a woman of great tenderness and charity, one whose moral emphasis was, if somewhat unsound artistically, always sincere.