Hall Caine, Internment and the Woman of Knockaloe, Pat Skillicorn 16.10.13


Pat began her illustrated talk by sketching in something of the history of Hall Caine, the eminent Victorian novelist forever associated with the Isle of Man and his home, Greeba Castle. She expressed a feeling of nervousness at seeing Ula Corkill, an authority on Hall Caine and Frances Coakley, expert in Manx heritage both in the audience. Of course, she had nothing to fear. Her scholarly research in so many areas and previous talks to the trust make her an established figure and an accomplished speaker.
Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine CH, KBE to give him his full title was born in Cheshire. His father, born in Ramsey left the Island, as so many have, in search of work and found employment as a fitter in Liverpool docks. Hall Caine, as he preferred to be known, was educated at a British National School in Liverpool until he was fourteen. They must have given him a splendid education in English as he excelled as a writer. However, he started work in Liverpool with an architect and then became an architect/surveyor. He was set on a literary career and his determination paid off.
Most people, one way or another, can access the inter net. Wikipaedia sets out Hall Caine’s biography in a clear but mind-boggling way. His contacts with great authors and other eminent figures seemed to explode in no time. Do have a look.
Caine’s first novel, The Deemster, was a success. He frequently visited the Island and this seems to have been a great influence on his life and writing. He came to live in Greeba Castle and such was his fame from his published works and friendships with Victorian greats such as Rosetti, crowds would gather outside his home in the hopes of seeing him.
Pat’s attention was drawn to the novel, Woman of Knockaloe that Hall Caine said came to him in a dream. It centres on the love that developed between a Manx girl called Mona and a German Knockaloe internee. The development of the romance, the way it affected people still seething with hatred of the Germans for the war and how true love overcame people’s feelings is a remarkable tale. It was seen as an allegory for the necessity of re-establishing good relations between different nations. This was a huge success and was made into a silent film. We were lucky enough to view a clip. Of course, when the book was written and the film made, there was no suggestion that the Germans would launch a second world war with all its accompanying horrors.
On much the same theme, our next meeting at 7.30 on Wednesday, 20th November in the Centenary Centre features Ian Cannell CBE speaking on Remembrance Travels – remembrance with an international dimension. Tickets for the Christmas Party at the Golf Club will be on sale. A wonderful band is included. To be on the safe side, ring Corrie Wooding on 843502.