Silas Kitto Hocking was born at St Stephen-in-Brannel, Cornwall, to James Hocking, part owner of a tin mine, and his wife Elizabeth. His brother was Joseph Hocking (1860–1937), also a novelist and Methodist minister, and his sister, Salome (1859-1927), who was also a novelist. As a youngster he read Sir Walter Scott. Although intended to follow his father into the tin business, he felt called to the Methodist ministry. He attended Owens College and the Crescent Range Theological College of Manchester. In 1870 he was ordained as a minister. He worked in different parts of England over the next few years, showing himself to be a brilliant preacher, and he married in 1876. He resigned in 1896 to devote his time to writing, Liberal politics and journalism.
Hocking wrote many novels aimed at children with a didactic bent. He wrote his first novel, Alec Green, while living in Liverpool in 1878. It was, however, with his second novel that he won great fame; Her Benny (1879), a story of the street children of Liverpool. It sold over a million copies and with it Hocking become one of the most popular authors in England. The novel was adapted to silent film in 1920 as Her Benny.
In 1894 Hocking became editor of Family Circle and two years later helped establish Temple Magazine, a Sunday magazine in the style of Good Words. His novel The Strange Adventures of Israel Pendry (1899) is autobiographical of his Cornish youth. Other works include God's Outcast (1898) which reflects on the nature of guilt; and, To Pay the Price (1900), a morality story of theft and redemption. His autobiography My Book of Memory was published in 1923. In all he wrote fifty books.
Hocking was also politically active, for the Liberal party and unsuccessfully contested the January 1906 General Election at Aylesbury and January 1910 General Election at Coventry. He died in Highgate, Middlesex, and was survived by his wife, Esther Mary, to whom he had been married since 1876. Together they had one son and two daughters. Through his mother he was related both to the biblical scholar John Kitto, and to HDF Kitto, the eminent professor of Greek. Silas Hocking is buried in St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, along with his son, who died of Spanish flu in 1919, and his wife.
- Alec Green (1878)
- Her Benny (1879)
- Ivy (1881)
- Real Grit (1887)
- For Abigail (1888)
- For Light and Liberty (1890)
- Where Duty Lies (1891)
- A Son of Reuben (1894)
Cricket - A Tale of Humble Life circa 1885
- For such is Life (1896)
- In Spite of Fate (1897)
- God's Outcast (1898)
- Allan Eyre (Crookleigh) (1899)
- The Strange Adventures of Israel Pendry (1899)
- To Pay the Price (1900)
- Gripped (1902)
- The Scarlet Clue (1904)
- A Modern Pharisee (1907)
- My Book of Memory (memoir, 1923)
- Sutherland, John (1989). The Stanford Companion to Victorian Fiction. Stanford University Press. p. 301.
- Burnett, R. G. (2004). "Hocking, Silas Kitto (1850–1935) rev. Sayoni Basu". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
- Hocking's mother and Kitto's grandfather were siblings, making them second cousins once removed
- Kent, Alan M. (2002). Pulp Methodism: The Lives and Literature of Silas, Joseph and Salome Hocking. St Austell: Cornish Hillside Publications. ISBN 978-1-900147-24-8
- Works by or about Silas Kitto Hocking at Internet Archive (scanned books original editions color illustrated)
- Her Benny at LibriVox (audiobook)
- Biography at Star-Dot-Star