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John Halifax, Gentleman

John Halifax, Gentleman by Dinah Craik
By: (1826-1887)

This novel, published in 1856, was one of the popular and beloved novels in the Victorian era. It is told in the first person by Phineas Fletcher, an invalid son of a Quaker tanner who is presented to us in the beginning as a lonely youth. John Halifax, the first friend he ever had, is a poor orphan who is taken in by his father to help in the work which his sickly son can't constantly do. Phineas tells us in an unforgettable way how John succeeded in rising from his humble beginning and become a wealthy and successful man. But with the money come horrible troubles... In an unforgettable manner, we learn to know all the characters of the novel as if they really lived.

First Page:



Dinah Maria Mulock (Mrs. Craik)


"Get out o' Mr. Fletcher's road, ye idle, lounging, little "

"Vagabond," I think the woman (Sally Watkins, once my nurse), was going to say, but she changed her mind.

My father and I both glanced round, surprised at her unusual reticence of epithets: but when the lad addressed turned, fixed his eyes on each of us for a moment, and made way for us, we ceased to wonder. Ragged, muddy, and miserable as he was, the poor boy looked anything but a "vagabond."

"Thee need not go into the wet, my lad. Keep close to the wall, and there will be shelter enough both for us and thee," said my father, as he pulled my little hand carriage into the alley, under cover, from the pelting rain. The lad, with a grateful look, put out a hand likewise, and pushed me further in. A strong hand it was roughened and browned with labour though he was scarcely as old as I. What would I not have given to have been so stalwart and so tall!

Sally called from her house door, "Wouldn't Master Phineas come in and sit by the fire a bit?" But it was always a trouble to me to move or walk; and I liked staying at the mouth of the alley, watching the autumnal shower come sweeping down the street: besides, I wanted to look again at the stranger lad... Continue reading book >>

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