In 1884, he was ordained as a minister. Working in different parts of England over the next few years, he wrote his first novel, Harry Penhale - The Trial of his Faith, while in London in 1887. He regarded fiction as a highly effective medium for conveying his Christian message to the public, and combined his writing with his church duties, until ill health forced him to resign from the ministry in 1909. His last pastoral charge was the large and important United Free Church at Woodford Essex, which he was instrumental in having rebuilt by the advanced arts and crafts architect, Charles Harrison Townsend.
On his recovery, he found himself a much sought-after preacher across Britain, and he travelled extensively in the Middle East.
He continued to write, and over the course of his career, he was the author of nearly 100 books. Although largely forgotten now, he was tremendously popular in his day.
He died in St Ives, Cornwall, and was survived by his wife, Annie, who he had married in 1887, and four daughters, three of whom become published novelists in their own right (Anne Hocking, Elizabeth Nisot and Joan Shill). A son, Cuthert, was killed in World War I.
Through his mother he was related to the biblical scholar John Kitto. His brother was Silas Hocking (1850–1935), a novelist and Methodist minister, and his sister, Salome Hocking (1859–1927), was also a novelist.
Hocking features as one of the main characters in the 2009 play Surfing Tommies by Cornish playwright, Alan M. Kent.
Joseph Hocking's ashes were buried in the churchyard of St Stephen-in-Brannel.
- Harry Penhale : The Trial of his Faith (1887)
- Jabez Easterbrook (1890)
- The Birthright (1897)
- Lest We Forget (1901)
- The Bells of St Ia (1911)
- The Spirit of the West (1913)
- All Men are Liars (1914)
- The Girl who Defied the World (1922)
- Bevil Granville's Handicap (1926)
- Not One in Ten (1933)
- Davey's Ambition (1936)
- Kent, Alan M. (2002). Pulp Methodism: The Lives and Literature of Silas, Joseph and Salome Hocking, Three Cornish Novelists. St Austell: Cornish Hillside Publications. pp. 132–135.
- Alan M. Kent, Pulp Methodism. The Lives & Literature of Silas, Joseph & Salome Hocking, Cornish Hillside Publications, 2002.
- Works by Joseph Hocking at Project Gutenberg
- Works by Joseph Hocking at Faded Page (Canada)
- Works by or about Joseph Hocking at Internet Archive
- Works by Joseph Hocking at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
- Joseph Hocking on IMDb
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