MARY HOCKING 1921 – 2014 Passed away peacefully on 17th February, 2014, aged 92. Prolific Author of 24 Books. Sadly missed by her many friends
(Obituary from The Argus newspaper)
I only discovered Mary Hocking had died when someone put a comment on this blog a few days ago alerting me to the fact. I was shocked it hadn’t been more talked about. Sad proof perhaps, that Mary Hocking has almost been forgotten – undeservedly so in my opinion. So thank you Tina for alerting me to this.
It was only last year I discovered the books of Mary Hocking and read five fairly close together. I was instantly taken with her work – and frustrated in my internet searching for more information about her. I found novels which are very well written, engaging with deftly written characters whose relationships and interplay are wonderfully realistic. In her eye for those everyday domestic details she is very much in the tradition of such writers as Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Pym. Her canvases are small, her settings (that I have so far encountered) recognisably that of an England that she herself knew. Mary Hocking wrote about the pettiness of middle-class life, her novels very much character driven.
It appears from the little I have found that Mary Hocking lived in Lewes Sussex for most of her life, although was originally born in London. Aside from writing she worked as local government officer and her Wartime service saw her serve with meteorology branch of Fleet Air Arm. So how is it a woman who wrote twenty four novels and reached the age of ninety-two can have died so recently and barely received a mention?
I am indebted in my search for information to Donna – who emailed me a raft of fascinating information some time ago that she was able to find through The Gale Literature resource database. Mary Hocking apparently said this of her work:
“Looking back over my novels, it is a surprise to find all those people trying to struggle free of the things which hamper and prevent them in their society. So, I suppose, I am concerned with the individual searching for something that will always be beyond his grasp because there is a mystery at the centre of life. I try not to be solemn about it, though, because I find I am more effective when I treat characters and events with humour.”
I therefore want to declare June to be Mary Hocking reading month – come on let’s remember Mary. I so wish someone would re-issue her novels – Virago I am particularly looking at you.
For those of you who have never read her books before and might think her out of print works hard to find – I can report that there are a number of reasonably priced second hand copies on Awesome books, Abebooks and Ebay – and no doubt that big river online place will have them too in their market place section. I would bet many libraries still have lots of her books too – or maybe I should say I hope many libraries will still have her books.
One of the books I intend to read is one of Mary Hocking’s later books – Letters from Constance – read Booksnob’s wonderful review of it here. I also found this review of The Meeting place – Mary Hocking’s final novel and another one I love the sound of.
Here are the list of her other novels.
• The Winter City, Chatto & Windus, 1961.
• Visitors to the Crescent, Chatto & Windus, 1962.
• The Sparrow, Chatto & Windus, 1964.
• The Young Spaniard, Chatto & Windus, 1965.
• Ask No Question, Morrow, 1967.
• A Time of War (also see below), Chatto & Windus, 1968.
• Checkmate, Chatto & Windus, 1969.
• The Hopeful Traveller (sequel to A Time of War), Chatto & Windus, 1970.
• The Climbing Frame, Chatto & Windus, 1971.
• Family Circle, Chatto & Windus, 1972.
• Daniel Come to Judgement, Chatto & Windus, 1974.
• The Bright Day, Chatto & Windus, 1975.
• The Mind Has Mountains, Chatto & Windus, 1976.
• Look, Stranger!, Chatto & Windus, 1978.
• He Who Plays the King, Chatto & Windus, 1980.
• March House, Chatto & Windus, 1981.
• Good Daughters (first novel in trilogy), Chatto & Windus, 1984.
• Indifferent Heroes (second novel in trilogy), Chatto & Windus, 1985.
• Welcome Strangers (third novel in trilogy), Chatto & Windus, 1986.
• An Irrelevant Woman, Chatto & Windus, 1987.
• A Particular Place, Chatto & Windus, 1989.
• Letters from Constance, Chatto & Windus, 1991.
• Letters from Constance, Virago Press, 1992.
• The Very Dead of Winter, Chatto & Windus, 1993.
• The Meeting Place, Chatto & Windus, 1996.
So who’s with me? Please fellow bloggers spread the word.