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Writers, Readers, and ReputationsLiterary Life in Britain 1870-1918$
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Philip Waller

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199541201

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.001.0001

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The Epic Ego: Hall Caine

The Epic Ego: Hall Caine

Chapter:
(p.729) 21 The Epic Ego: Hall Caine
Source:
Writers, Readers, and Reputations
Author(s):

Philip Waller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199541201.003.0021

Hall Caine is an extraordinary case study in the best-seller genre, not simply because of his boast of having made more money by his pen than any previous author, but because he believed he had created lasting literature on an epic scale like Tolstoy. He also adapted his stories for the stage, which yielded greater profits even than his book royalties, and he was excited by the emerging film industry. His unabashed self-promotion earned him scorn from Punch and from most other writers; but George Bernard Shaw defended him both because he considered Caine's career benefitted the writing profession generally and because they held overlapping views on radical politics and on the censorship of books and plays. Caine freely confessed to using Bible stories as the source for his own, although his personal religion was unorthodox and he was a more formulaic writer than he cared to admit. Outwardly, an enviable success, rich and with a knighthood, Caine was depressed by his inability to fulfil his principal ambition, to write a classic Life of Christ; his family life too was shadowed by dark secrets, including illegitimacy.

Keywords:   best-seller, bible stories, royalties, censorship, epic, hall Caine

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