Deborah Alcock

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Deborah Alcock (1835[1]– 15 January 1913) is best known as a late Victorian author of historical fiction focused on religious, evangelical themes.[2]

Life[edit]

She was born in Kilkenny, where her father, the Venerable John Alcock, who became Archdeacon of Waterford, and his wife Jane.[3] In the 1851 Isle of Man Census, the fifteen-year-old Deborah is recorded as living on the Isle of Man with her parents, aunt Sally McKenny, cousins nineteen-year-old Deborah Barllie and thirteen-year-old Barbara Gose, and two servants.[4]

Reflecting on her childhood, Alcock described having read narratives of saintly children who died young as well as stories detailing missionary outreach to unconverted heathen.[2] However, her father discouraged fiction reading, banning the works by the likes of Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Mary Yonge, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, or George McDonald. However, she was allowed to read novels by Sir Walter Scott, which shaped the theme and style of her writing as she grew older.[2]

In adulthood, she lived with her father, writing a memoir of him on his death entitled Walking with God: A Memoir of the Venerable John Alcock (Hodder & Houghton, 1898), and stayed unmarried herself. In the 1891 England Census, she and a Caroline G. Cavendish listed as currently visiting an Irish friend from Cork, Martha A. Lloyd at 143 Clapham Road, Lambeth, London.[5] In the England Census for 1901, she and her widowed cousin Mary Smith are located at Bournemouth, Dorset.[6] In 1900, The Sunday at Home, a periodical published by the Religious Tract Society, interviewed Alcock at her home in Bournemouth, revealing her frequent bouts of illness and constant excitement about writing.[7]

By the time of the 1911 England Census, Alcock had removed to Sussex.[8] She died at her home 1 Bohemia Road, Hastings, St. Leonards-on-Sea and left £9,726 16 s. in her will.[9]

Career[edit]

Her tale of Protestant martyrdom, The Spanish Brothers, published in 1870, was set in the 16th century. Other work includes The Czar (1882), set during the French invasion of Russia; Archie’s Chances (1886), and Prisoners of Hope (1894).

Themes[edit]

Her books contain episodes from the history of the Protestant church written in the form of a story. Several of these stories have been translated into Dutch, German, French, and other languages due to their popularity.[10]

Reception and Legacy[edit]

According to Benjamin B. Warfield, writing for the Princeton Theological Review, Alcock penned powerful stories but failed to make certain of her figures like John Calvin "Christian" and "forceful" enough. Besides this yearning for more muscular Christianity in Alcock's tales, Warfield does admit, "Deborah Alcock has long been known as the author of a series of admirable stories, the scenes of which are cast in stirring periods of religious history, and the religious tone of which is not only sane and true, but especially moving. The best of them is probably The Spanish Brothers, the scene of which is cast in Reformation Spain: it has been translated into most of the European languages and has had a wide influence for good."[11]

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Christian publishers such as Moody Publishers, Inheritance Publications, and Bible Truth have reissued her titles.

Books[edit]

  • The Life of Gustavus Adolphus, King of Sweden (1857)
  • The Seven Churches of Asia, or, The Seven Golden Candlesticks (1860)
  • Tales of Martyr Times (1872)
  • The Dark Year of Dundee: Tale of the Scottish Reformation (1876)
  • In the Shadow of God (1877)
  • Lessons on Early Church History (1879)
  • In the Shadow of God. In the Desert: A Story of the Church Under the Cross (1880)
  • The Roman Students; or, On the Wings of the Morning (1883)
  • The Czar: A Tale of the Time of The First Napoleon (1885)
  • Archie's Chances (1886)
  • The Child's Victory (1889)
  • Geneviève; or, the Children of Port Royal. A story of Old France (1889)
  • The Spanish Brothers: A Tale of the Sixteenth Century (1891)
  • By Far Euphrates; A Tale (1897)
  • No Cross, No Crown: A Tale of the Scottish Reformation (1900)
  • Under the Southern Cross. A Tale of the New World (1900)
  • Prisoners of Hope (1894)
  • Done and Dared in Old France (1907)
  • Under Calvin's Spell; or, A Tale of the heroic Times in Old Geneva (1902), republished in France as Gabrielle; histoire d'une fiancée au temps de Calvin (1908)
  • The Romance of Protestantism (1908)

References[edit]

  1. ^ according to the biography http://www.telusplanet.net/public/inhpubl/webip/Alcock01.htm and to the Library of Congress and other libraries, see http://viaf.org/viaf/42202861/
  2. ^ a b c Murphy, James H. (September 2011). The Oxford History of the Irish Book, Volume IV: The Irish Book in English, 1800-1891. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780198187318.
  3. ^ Class: HO107; Piece: 2525; Folio: 127; Page: 40; GSU roll: 105992-105996. Ancestry.com. 1851 Isle of Man Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
  4. ^ Class: HO107; Piece: 2525; Folio: 127; Page: 40; GSU roll: 105992-105996. Ancestry.com. 1851 Isle of Man Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1851. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1851. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.
  5. ^ The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Class: RG12; Piece: 404; Folio: 90; Page: 4. Ancestry.com. 1891 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA): Public Record Office (PRO), 1891.
  6. ^ Class: RG13; Piece: 1040; Folio: 73; Page: 6. Ancestry.com. 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1901. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 1901. Data imaged from the National Archives, London, England.
  7. ^ The Sunday at Home. Religious Tract Society. 1900. p. 562.CS1 maint: Date and year (link)
  8. ^ Class: RG14; Piece: 4764; Schedule Number: 239. Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK (TNA), 1911.
  9. ^ Ancestry.com. England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Principal Probate Registry. Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration made in the Probate Registries of the High Court of Justice in England.
  10. ^ "Deborah Alcock - Exodus Books". www.exodusbooks.com. Retrieved 2019-02-20.
  11. ^ The Princeton Theological Review. Princeton University Press. 1903. pp. 510–511.

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