The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XII. The Romantic Revival.

XI. Lesser Novelists

§ 10. Theodore Hook

Of Hook’s fiction, it is difficult to write. It had a wide influence; and it is of little value. It lacks all the higher qualities, but suggested possibilities to many a later writer. The nine volumes of Hook’s novels, Sayings and Doings (1826–9) were, in their own day, very popular: to modern reader, even the best of them, Gervase Skinner, seems flimsy, vulgar and trivial. However, there is a lively spirit in them; and Hook’s value to English fiction seems to lie in his very freedom and “modernity.” He reminded fiction—for, indeed, she seemed to have forgotten what Fielding had made clear—that all life was her province. He showed that it was possible to be “up-to-date,” free (and also easy), without degrading the art; thus, he opened a way to minds like Marryat’s which had a truer originality and a fresher vision. Before long, Dickens was to appear, to make supreme use of the lately won liberty.