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John Halifax, Gentleman

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  75 ratings  ·  20 reviews
John Halifax, Gentleman By Dinah Mulock Craik Edited by Lynn M. Alexander

This 1856 novel, one of the most beloved of the Victorian period, follows the life, from childhood to death, of an orphaned boy who grows to become a wealthy and powerful leader in his community. The young John Halifax is taken in by Abel Fletcher, a Quaker tanner, and forms a close friendship with F

Paperback, 592 pages
Published October 26th 2005 by Broadview Press (first published 1856)
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This book has restored my faith in Victorian literature after some doubt crept in with Harrison Ainsworth and Bulwer Lytton, groan.
Napoleonic wars, bread riots, religious intolerance, industrial's all here in the life of this most perfect of heroes. Don't read it if you don't like overt piety, it's full of that, but it grows naturally from the characters as Mrs Craik develops them. This from the very beginning, as the hero meets the narrator:

" "and it came to pass, when he had
Apr 23, 2011 Rita rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Ali
I've got an old Everyman edition dated 1941.

I think it's time for a 'John Halifax , Gentleman' revival. I saw it as a TV drama in the 70's but it hasn't been dramatised since.
From chapter 1 my heart ached for lonely Phineas and brave, homeless John and I cried at the end. I was worried that it would be boring and although it preaches a bit, it's a moral story about working hard, living a good life and being a good parent, it's far from boring. There's a lot in it about that time; steam engines,
Damn those lady novelists. If it wasn't for George Eliot, or Elizabeth Gaskell or those bothersome Brontës, Mrs Craik would have been remembered as being one of the better Victorian women writers. This is the only book I know that is set in Tewkesbury and one of the few (Cider with Rosie, The Choir) that are set in Gloucestershire. Which may be one of the weaknesses and I am afraid there are many. Dinah Craik tries to tell the history of Britain through the life of John Halifax; the problems of ...more
John Halifax was a devoted husband, father and friend. His story, narrated by his best friend, Phineas, although old fashioned, inspired me to want to be a better person, to love others deeper, and to never give up. He never forgot where he came from and he was grateful and faithful to the people that helped him succeed. He also never allowed his success to change him as he continued to live simply and to share his wealth. He was a smart, mostly self educated, innovative man. He loved his wife d ...more
John Halifax: young orphan, poor boy, friend, hard worker, kind.
John Halifax: a gentleman in the very best sense of the word. He may not have wealth, rank or position, but he has integrity, character, principles, faith, and the love of a good woman.
I loved this story. We first meet John when he is kind to an ill boy, befriending him, caring for him. We follow John as he meets and marries the love of his life, Ursala March. I loved that this was the tale of a happy marriage, where both parties t
John Halifax, Gentleman (1856) is a classic of the Victorian era. It is the story of a David and Jonathon-like friendship. It is also about a long and happy marriage. But mostly it recounts the life of a man who never backs down from his principles. The book proposed the “revolutionary” idea that a man is not a gentleman primarily because of wealth and title, but because of integrity, honor and hard work.

Halifax is a poor orphan who works his way up from poverty; his story is narrated by Phineas
I began reading a well-loved copy of this upon my 18-year-old daughter's recommendation, while visiting at the charming Quail Hollow Farm homestead where she is interning at this CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Upon my return home I requested it my inter-library loan and received a copy from Chicago, copyright 1859, pages near to crumbling. I began jotting notes halfway through.

Today's reader is hard pressed to understand the brotherly love expressed here. The story's narrator is the life
Laura McDonald
There's a lot of Dickens influence here. It also reminds me of Gaskell's North and South with the dreary English weather and a focus on working class and their sometimes violent clashes with the gentry. The narrative structure is interesting in that the narrator is not the hero--I'm not sure this works all the time. John Halifax fluctuates between strong hero and whiny romantic. Thankfully he grows out of the whiny and became a much more steady and interesting character later in the book. This i ...more
Alan Reynolds
By Miss Mulock. Thomas Y. Cromwell Company, Publishers, New York, 1897.

This is perhaps the oldest book I have, and one of the few that belonged to my father.
Zeta T.
I'm surprised that this author pulls me in because she writes a bit like Dickens (makes sense since it's about the same time period) and I have trouble reading Dickens. I enjoyed Young Mrs. Jardine more but I stuck this out through a library version, an old bought copy and finally the last page on gutenberg (the print in my old copy kept getting smaller and smaller in the back :S )
Definitely lengthy and kind of like an entire life story. Full of morals and religious brevity.
Susan Keraus
This book was a gift from my Grandmother to her soon to be husband around 1917. The book was so fragile I couldn't read it, but found it on my Kindle for free! Now one of my favorite books for numerous reasons. It is filled with much wisdom, &, examples of perseverance, honesty, hard work, self sacrifice, integrity, humility & true love - doesn't get much better than that! Enjoyed every page & highly recommend this book.
This old forgotten classic was a delightful read in that by reading about old fashioned values, integrity, and honor, made me want to do better and be better, especially as a help meet. I suppose many would say it is nothing more than moralizing hero worship, but I find that it is something society is in need of at the moment. I will probably read it again and recommend it to my husband.
I absolutely enjoyed this book.
I loved how strong the family ties were and how in-depth the characterization was. It was beautifully written.
I couldn't help thinking how reminiscent the book was with how things are today…..the divide between those that have and those who have not.
It is definitely one book I would love to read again in the future.
A fun and bizarre Victorian novel about a self-made "gentleman" in the early decades of the 19th c. Reads like a cross between Dickens (characters include an orphan with a work ethic and a sickly, disabled man) and Eliot (sustained psycho-social investigations).

The editing isn't great in this edition, but don't stay away because of that.
Ann Quinn
I only got this book because my mother told me she got her name, Muriel, from a character in the book. I was curious, but didn't expect to read much. It is a long book. I found I could hardly put it down, even though the language was quaint by our modern standards. I can see why it was so popular in its day.
Peter Perhac
Interesting read. Captured quite a few quotes from it. For example, "I have seen many a face that was more good-looking—never one that looked half so good." Be prepared for quite a lot of religious stuff when picking this up.
Aug 26, 2012 Kathy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Kathy by: My mother
This book belonged to my mother. She gave it to me, along with several other of her cherished books this past Christmas. The inscription inside is from her Aunt Mena in 1936 given to mom for Christmas.
I think this book was most excellent, and that anyone who calls himself a Christian should be sure to read it and emulate the lessons taught by Mr. Halifax to his family.
Jan 10, 2009 Fiona marked it as to-read
I inherited this book from my grandma, my name has been in it since I was four years old. So I really think I better read it!
Loved it. John Halifax really was a gentle man, my all time favourite of the period.
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Dinah Maria Craik (born Dinah Maria Mulock, also often credited as Miss Mulock or Mrs. Craik) was an English novelist and poet. She was born at Stoke-on-Trent and brought up in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire.

After the death of her mother in 1845, Dinah Maria Mulock settled in London about 1846. She was determined to obtain a livelihood by her pen, and, beginning with fiction for children, adv
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“[It] was the first time in my life I ever knew the meaning of that rare thing, tenderness. A quality different from kindliness, affectionateness, or benevolence; a quality which can exist only in strong, deep, and undemonstrative natures, and therefore in its perfection is oftenest found in men.” 1 likes
“The lad, like many another, owed nothing to his father but his mere existence—Heaven knows whether that gift is oftenest a curse or a boon.” 0 likes
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