Silas Hocking was born in 1850 in St Stephen-in-Brannel near St Austell, where his father was tenant of a small farm called Broadmoor owned by the Boconnoc Estate. Silas became a Methodist minister first in Manchester and Liverpool and then in Southport, where he preached to full houses for thirteen years. Whilst he was working in the north of England, he wrote “Her Benny”, the story of Victorian Liverpool street urchins. Although Hocking sold the copyright of this novel for only £20, it was an immediate best-seller and ultimately became the first book to sell a million copies during the lifetime of the author.
In addition to novels, Hocking also produced many other works including sermons. Many of these were on the themes of such subjects as temperance and morality. A large amount of his work also reflected his concerns about the well-being of children.
In 1895, Hocking retired from the ministry to devote himself to full time writing. He also became involved in Liberal politics. In total, he wrote fifty books, including a volume of autobiography. He also became editor of several magazines. His brother, Joseph, and sister, Salome, also became best selling novelists.