Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine (1853-1931)
Author and Constitutional Reformer
Bestselling author and playwright, member of the House of Keys, and campaigner for constitutional reform.
Thomas Henry Hall Caine was born at Runcorn in May 1853, but much of his childhood and youth was spent with relatives in Ballaugh and Maughold. His first work of fiction, The Shadow of a Crime, was published in 1885.
A series of novels set wholly or partly in the Isle of Man followed, including The Deemster (1887), The Bondman (1890), The Manxman (1894), The Christian (1897), The Master of Man (1921) and The Woman of Knockaloe (1923). His knowledge of the Manx people and their history and customs served as useful sources for his work, and at the height of his fame his novels did much to promote the Island.
Hall Caine was twice elected as Member of the House of Keys for Ramsey, a role in which he consistently supported constitutional reform. In his first election manifesto he argued that the Legislative Council should be directly elected, and that the Island should be given Dominion status. In 1903 he became President of the Manx Reform League, and in 1907 he chaired the Keys’ Committee that prepared the petition for reform of the Manx constitution. He also proposed such radical measures as the nationalisation of all public transport and banks, government subsidies for fishermen and farmers, and for the Island’s financial affairs to be handled by the House of Keys rather than by Whitehall.
A man of Manxland