Dinah Maria Mulock was born in Stoke-upon-Trent on April 20.1826 She started writing at the age of 20 and continued writing for the rest of her life and completed some 50 novels, children’s books and poems: of which the most well known is John Halifax, Gentleman (published 1856).
She moved to London in 1846 and In 1865. Dinah married George Lillie Craik. a partner in the firm of Macmillan’s. A year later, the couple moved to Beckenham, living in Chilchester Lodge, a Georgian House in Wickham Road. Today, the block of flats which replaced Mrs Craik’s house is called Chilcester Lodge, opposite the entrance to Kelsey Park.
Her next Beckenham home was in the “Corner House” at the junction of Scotts Lane and Shortlands Road. She died on October 12th. 1887. At a service in St. Mary’s. Shortlands; where Dinah used to worship, the vicar quoted her own words in her memory:
And when I lie in the green kirkyard
With the mould upon my breast,
Say not ‘that she did well – or ill’
Only, ‘She did her best!’
Mrs Craik was buried in the graveyard of Keston church and a tablet to her memory was placed in St Mary’s. Shortlands. St Mary’s was ruined by bombing in 1944 and all the memorials destroyed. The present church dates from the 1956.
However, in the Abbey in the town of Tewkesbury, which was the setting for John Halifax, Gentleman, there is a fine marble memorial. This was the work of a committee, which included, among others, the following historic names: Lord Tennyson, Matthew Arnold, Robert Browning, Sir Frederick Leighton, Sir John E. Millais, Professor Huxley, J. Russell Lowell, and Mrs. Oliphant.