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Mary Hocking
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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
Posts: 731



PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:40 am    Post subject: Mary Hocking  Reply with quote

Does anyone know anything about Mary Hocking? She was one of those authors whose books were always on the library shelves when I first began work in the late '60s, and I suppose because she mostly seemed to appeal to the older ladies among our readership, I automatically consigned her to the category of hopelessly passé and of little interest. I hadn't given her a thought for years, until a few weeks ago, I came across a Virago Modern Classics copy of her 'Good Daughters' in a charity shop. I usually investigate any green covered Virago paperback that I find, so this one drew my attention straight away.

The novel was published by Virago in 1995, only eleven years after its first publication, which is quite a short interval by usual Virago standards. I began to read the book a couple of nights ago, and so far, am enjoying it. My curiosity about the author was awakened, and, as she doesn't get a mention in any of my reference books, I decided to try Google. Apart from lists of her novels, and the fact that she was born in 1921, I have found virtually nothing. It seems strange that she should have dropped so completely off the edge of the literary world. Does any one know anything about her? Is she still alive - that is quite possible given her date of birth?


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The name is completely new to me, I'm afraid. I don't even recall seeing any of her books in shops.


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MikeAlx



Joined: 17 Nov 2008
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Location: Seaford, East Sussex

PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A new name to me too - her bibliography at fantastic fiction goes up to 1996, when she published 'The Meeting Place'. She is listed on Wikipedia as a current member of the Royal Society of Literature. Seems to be still with us, but perhaps no longer writing. At 89, who could blame her?



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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I promised to write something about 'Good Daughters', the Mary Hocking novel that I read recently, and which sparked my curiosity. I'm still intrigued by the way she seems to have gone from first novel in 1961 to Virago Modern Classic in 1995, seemingly having become neglected and therefore worthy of rediscovery almost before she had established herself!

'Good Daughters' is the first part of a trilogy about the Fairley family, and as far as I can tell from the little I can find about Mary Hocking's biography, is very much based upon her own family. It certainly carries the conviction that these are real people, living actual lives. The family consists of the parents and three daughters, of whom Alice is the middle one, 12 years of age at the opening of the book, and, I would surmise, the character based upon Mary herself.

The father, Stanley Fairley, very much dominates this book, although most of it is told from the viewpoint of his daughters, particularly Alice. It would be easy to see Stanley as a monster and he is not an easy man to like, yet it is clear that despite everything, his wife and daughters love him deeply and he has qualities which make him admirable. Stanley is headmaster of a boys' school in a deprived area of London in the 1930s, and a Methodist lay preacher. He attempts to run his home strictly in accordance with his religious beliefs, so that his daughters are not allowed to go to the cinema unless the film being shown can be demonstrated to be educational: inevitably, they become extremely skilled at manipulating facts in order to see films of their own choosing. He also strictly controls the friendships he allows his daughters to have, so that at one point Alice, having discovered that a friend's father is having an affair, feels she dare not reveal this information because her father would not allow her friendship to continue.

One of Stanley's saving graces is his social conscience: he shows genuine concern for the plight of the poor and unemployed and is one of the first to become aware of the threat posed by Hitler in Germany. In fact his mother-in-law complains that a letter she has received from him has 5 pages about the Reichstag fire, and one of family news. Towards the end of the book, when the daughter of the emigré family next door has disappearred in Germany on a visit to her Jewish grandparents, he is the only person to offer any practical help or support. But overall, it is the way his wife and daughters constantly succeed in subverting his more extreme attitudes that gives him a humanity which might otherwise be lacking.

Mary Hocking mostly writes well, although there were a few sentences which I had to stop and read over and over before they made any sort of sense: the odd comma or a change in word order would have made a great deal of difference in those cases. Despite that minor irritation,I enjoyed this book, and shall certainly look out for the other two volumes in the series, 'Indifferent Heroes' and 'Welcome Strangers'.


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Sue



Joined: 20 Feb 2012
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2012 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just read Good Daughters which I borrowed from the library, I wanted to read the rest of the trilogy but was informed they are out of print (Ihave them now thanks to Amazon) I relly enjoyed the book and have tried to find out more about the author with no luck. Is she still alive?


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Apple



Joined: 24 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not related to this thread, so sorry about hijacking it but just wanted to say hello and welcome to Sue who appears to be the latest newest member and this is her first post!

Hello and a very warm welcome from me, Apple  hello2

Anyway back to the subject, the name rings bells with me (for a change) but I can't place where, I do have a vague memory of this author being on the bookshelf of my grandparents or could be aunts I can't remember clearly when I went to visit as a kid. But I could be making that up, but the name does seem vaguely familiar.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sue wrote:
I have just read Good Daughters which I borrowed from the library, I wanted to read the rest of the trilogy but was informed they are out of print (Ihave them now thanks to Amazon) I relly enjoyed the book and have tried to find out more about the author with no luck. Is she still alive?


Hello Sue, and welcome to the board. Please do have a good look around, and make yourself at home.

It looks like Chris-l is the only one here sufficiently knowledgeable here on Mary Hocking to answer your question, so you'll probably have to wait till she gets on here! (Unless someone else can answer you, that is...)



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Chibiabos83
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Joined: 19 Nov 2008
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Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, welcome to the board, Sue! Have a look around, make yourself at home.


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Chibiabos83
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Himadri said.


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chris-l



Joined: 27 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wish I could claim to be knowledgeable on this (or any other) subject. I certainly remember Mary Hocking's novels being popular in public libraries in the 1960s and early 70s, but I didn't read any at that point. My attempts to find out any information about Mary Hocking and why she seemed to have abruptly disappeared from the scene, drew a blank. I concluded as I could find no obituary or other mention of her death that she might possibly be still alive, but that is pure speculation.

I'm glad you enjoyed the book, Sue, as I did. I haven't yet got around to searching Amazon for copies of the other two in the series, but maybe now that you have nudged me in that direction, I will make the effort.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on those, and other books.



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