Dinah Maria Craik was an English novelist and poet. Thoroughly established in public favour as a successful author, Miss Mulock took a cottage at Wildwood, North End, Hampstead, and became the ornament of a very extensive social circle. Her personal attractions were at this period of her life considerable, and her simple cordiality, staunch friendliness, and thorough goodness of heart perfected the fascination. In 1857, appeared the work by which she will be principally remembered, John Halifax, Gentleman, a very noble presentation of the highest ideal of English middle-class life, which after nearly forty years still stands boldly out from the works of the female writers of the period, George Eliot's excepted. In writing John Halifax, however, Miss Mulock had practically delivered her message, and her next important work, A Life for a Life (1859), though a very good novel more highly remunerated, and perhaps at the time more widely read, than John Halifax was far from possessing the latter's enduring charm. Mistress and Maid (1863), which originally appeared in Good Words, was inferior in every respect ; and, though the lapse was partly retrieved in Christian's Mistake (1865), her subsequent novels were of no great account. The genuine passion which had upborne her early works of fiction had not unnaturally faded out of middle life, and had as naturally been replaced by an excess of the didactic element. This the author seemed to feel herself, for several of her later publications were undisguisedly didactic essays, of which A Woman's Thoughts about Women and Sermons out of Church obtained most notice. Another collection, titled The Unkind Word and Other Stories, included a scathing criticism of Benjamin Heath Malkin for overworking his son Thomas, a child prodigy who died at seven.
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