Nautical Fiction List Changes, Version 50 to Version 51

June, 1999

This month I got a bunch of descriptions of old books from David N. Goodchild,fs a publisher of inexpensive reprints of old nautical books, so I'll give him a free plug.


Chamier, Captain Frederick, R.N. 1796-1870  (Chamier enetered the navy in 1809
  aboard the SALSETTE, which took part in the Walcheren expedition. Between
  1810 and 1827 he was employed chiefly in the Mediterranean but left the Navy
  as a commander in 1833 (he made captain in 1856). He edited an important
  continuation of James' NAVAL HISTORY. [From the National Maritime Museum,
  Greenwich's, biography)
     The Life of A Sailor, 1832 (Autobiographic?)

Dorling, Henry Taprell (Taffrail, Entered the RN in 1897. Took part in the
  relief of Peking. During WW I he served on destroyers and minelayers,
  mainly in the North Sea, and was awarded the DSO in 1918. He retired from
  the navy in 1929, though was recalled during WW II as a propagandist in the
  Minstry of Information.[From a TIMES obituary])
     Seventy North, 1934 (Plenty of statistics and social history are
       interestingly incorporated into a readable story involving a Hull
       trawler fishing in the arctic prior to WW II. Although written in the
       style of the day, reading the book now graphically illustrates how the
       importance and impact of fishing on the community has been eroded

Dowling, Sherwood
     Submarine Chums series: (Adventures of a group of young boys in a
     home-made submarine.)
       The Cruise of the Gray Whale, 1914 [1] (The first discovery of the
         submarine and the chums' first adventures. These are not without
         peril, and the stories' real moral lies in the clear-headed, and
         innovative way the young hero saves the lives of  his companions and
         extricates them from danger. Nothing fantastic or unbelievable, just
         good common sense, some simple basic physics and the hard lesson
         learned that things that appear to be dangerous, probably are, and
         that adults should probably be consulted first!)
       The Gray Whale Flagship, 1915 [3] (More adventures of the Submarine
         Chums but now with two subs! They decide to go into business carrying
         passengers on submerged tours, but obviously, since this is a boy's
         book series, much trouble ensues with bad guys (and good guys)
         galore. "Entertaining reading for the young'uns and the same good
         features in this outing as in the first one listed above." [DG])

Forester, Cecil Scott 1899-1966 (Prior to Patrick O'Brian, regarded as the
  uniquely satisfying novelist on naval life in the Napoleanic period. Also
  wrote several histories.)
     The Horatio Hornblower Saga: (With dates covered by each book)
       Mr. Midshipman Hornblower [6/1794 - 4/1798] (Midshipman Hornblower, new
         to his ship and the Royal Navy, stands up to a bully, loses his first
         command, and becomes a prisoner with a duchess under his care, but
         surprises continue.)
       Lieutenant Hornblower [5/1800 - 4/1803] (Hornblower must deal with
         poverty, a near-mutiny, a mad captain, hand-to-hand combat, command,
         and perhaps the most difficult, his landlady's daughter, Maria. Told
         from the point of view of his friend Bush.)
       Hornblower and the Hotspur [4/03 - 7/05] (Commander Hornblower marries
         Maria and blockades the French in the sloop HOTSPUR.)
       Hornblower During the Crisis [1805] (Unfinished)
       Hornblower and the Atropos [12/05 - 1/08] (Our hero takes part in Lord
         Nelson's funeral and goes treasure hunting in the Levant, among other
       Beat to Quarters [6/08 - 10/08] (THE HAPPY RETURN, In the UK. Captain
         Hornblower must deal with the tin-pot Central American dictator El
         Supremo and the romantic temptation of Lady Barbara. The first book
         in the series to be published.)
       Ship of the Line [5/10 - 10/10] (Commanding the ship of the line
         SUNDERLAND, our hero is captured by the French when his ship is
         overwhelmed by a superior force after a series of daring raids along
         the Spanish coast.)
       Flying Colours [11/10 - 6/11] (The French want to execute Hornblower as
         a spy, but he and the crippled Bush, along with his coxswain Brown,
         manage to escape and make their way down the Loire river.)
       Commodore Hornblower [5/12 - 10/12] (Hornblower leads a squadron in the
         Baltic trying to protect trade and stop Napoleon's advance.)
       Lord Hornblower [10/13- 5/14] (Hornblower must rescue a known tyrant
         from the mutiny of his crew.)
       Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies [5/1821 - 10/1823] (Admiral
         Hornblower struggles to impose order in the Caribbean following the
           Napoleonic Wars, surviving pirates, revolutionaries and a

Greer, Andrew
     The Sea Chase, 1948 (The German freighter ERGENSTRASSE escapes from
       Australia before the outbreak of WW II. Unarmed, she is faced with the
       task of returning to Nazi Germany in the face of the Royal Navy's
       blockade. Made into a movie with John Wayne playing the part of the
       anti-Nazi German master, Karl Erlich. Loosely based on the story of the
       ERLANGEN, a German ship which left Dunedin at the outbreak of the war.
       She sailed to the Auckland Islands where they cut 500 tons of firewood
       (rata - well known as iron wood)! They finally made it to South
       America. Good movie, great book.)

Ransome, Arthur 1884-1967 (Ransome was introduced to the English Lake District
  as a baby and spent many holidays and was partially educated there. He
  became a writer and journalist and covered the Russian Revolution where he
  met his second wife Evgenia who was Trotsky's secretary. They moved to live
  in the Lake District when he began full time writing. Most of Ransome's
  fictional locations are based on real places and so are many of the
  characters and boats. SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS was written for the Altounyan
  family, some of whose names he appropriated for the "Swallows". Both SWALLOW
  and AMAZON were based on real sailing dinghies and MAVIS, the original
  AMAZON, has been restored and is on display in Windermere. Later he moved to
  East Anglia which became the setting for some of the other stories in the
     Swallows and Amazons series: (Nominally juvenile; will appeal to the
     traditionalist and to those who like Treasure Island. There is The
     Arthur Ransome Society, (TARS), for the enthusiasts. There are now
     several non-fiction books about all this, too.)
       Missee Lee [10] (Captured by Chinese pirates, the SWALLOWs and AMAZONs
         manage to win over the Cambridge-educated pirate leader in an unusual
         but unwelcome way. They seem doomed to stay prisoners for ever.
         However, the rest of the pirates think beheading is a better solution
         and so they have to dance their way to freedom.)

Roberts, Kenneth 1885-1957
     The Lively Lady, 1931 (Follows the fortunes of Richard Nason, a Maine
       sailing master and privateer who is captured and imprisoned by the
       British during the War of 1812. Roberts writes of the courage of
       American privateers during the war and the sufferings of thousands of
       American seamen in the infamous Dartmoor Prison.)
     Captain Caution, 1934 (It is 1812 and America has declared war on
       Britain. The American ship OLIVE BRANCH is waylaid by a British
       cruiser. Captain Dorman is killed, and his crew is taken prisoner,
       including the captain's pretty and strong-willed daughter, Corunna.
       Roberts portrays the bravery of American seamen, their sufferings
       within the mist-shrouded walls of Dartmoor Prison, the invention of the
       gangway pendulum, and the sailor's dangerous and dramatic escape.)

Scott, Michael 1789-1835
     Tom Cringle's Log, 1836 (Magazine serial 1829-33) (Scott puts Tom in the
       Royal Navy in the years 1805-1812. Tom has many nautical adventures
       though the book is as much a travelogue as a nautical log. In some ways
       the book is reminiscent of Marryat and in other respects a precursor of


Alger, Horatio Jr. 1832-1899
     Charlie Codman's Cruise, 1910 (Charlie's "cruise" is nothing like what we
       would consider as such. Kidnapped by a brutal mate and captain because
       of the mate's earlier rejection by Charlie's mother, things look bleak
       until he is befriended by an old seaman named Bill Sturdy. After
       escaping from the vessel in Rio, they make their way back to Boston and
       everyone get's their comeuppance. "You can almost hear the silent-movie
       music playing throughout all of this book. A good read, with a happy
       ending!" [DG])

Appleton, Victor
     Tom Swift series:
       Tom Swift And His Motor Boat, 1910 (In this adventure, young inventor
         Tom buys a used motor boat at auction, little knowing that it harbors
         a dangerous secret. Together with his father and a chum, Tom defeats
         bank robbers, faces down a school bully, and goes a long way to
         winning the heart of Miss Nestor. "There's a reason why the Tom Swift
         series was the most popular of the many turn-of-the-century book
         series which existed for young boys; very well written, well-versed
         in the mechanics of the day, credible and suspenseful, they read just
         as well today." [DG])
       Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat, or, Under the Ocean for Sunken
         Treasure, 1910
       Tom Swift and his Undersea Search; or, The Treasure on the Floor of the
         Atlantic, 1920 (Tom Swift and his friend accept an assignment to
         salvage treasure from a wrecked ship.)
       Tom Swift and his Flying Boat: or, The Castaways of the Giant Iceberg,
       Tom Swift and His Giant Magnet; or, Bringing up the Lost Submarine,

Arundel, Louis
     Motor Boat Boys series:
       Motor Boat Boys Mississippi Cruise, 1912
       Motor Boat Boys on the Great Lakes, 1912
       Motor Boat Boys on the St. Lawrence, 1912
       Motor Boat Boys River Chase; or, Six Chums Afloat and Ashore, 1914 (Six
         boys, with three motor boats, seem to spend a great deal of their
         time achieving heroic ends. This tale involves a thrilling motor-boat
         chase down the Mississippi river after a pair of bank robbers.)

Bonehill, Captain Ralph 1862-1930
     A Sailor Boy With Dewey, 1899 (Oliver Raymond, a young civilian
       entrepreneur, tries to save his father's business from the ravages of
       the Spanish conquerors of Manila and the rebellious Tagals (the local
       population). Caught between both sides, alternately captured by both
       and also beset by the evil intentions of his villainous captain, Oliver
       and his chum Ken persevere and eventually end up with Commodore Dewey
       during the battle of Manila Bay. "A real adventure yarn!" [DG] For
       young readers.)

Brook, Peter
     World Elsewhere, 1999 (Based on an actual round the world voyage of a
       French ship in the 1770s. The protagonist is a young aristocrat.
       "Voluptuous descriptions of freewheeling feasts, hibiscus-scented
       breezes, and romps at a swimming hole..." [The Wall Street Journal])

Burton, Hester
     Castors away!, 1962 (Juvenile fiction about the battle of Trafalgar.)

Dorling, Henry Taprell (Taffrail, Entered the RN in 1897. Took part in the
  relief of Peking. During WW I he served on destroyers and minelayers,
  mainly in the North Sea, and was awarded the DSO in 1918. He retired from
  the navy in 1929, though was recalled during WW II as a propagandist in the
  Minstry of Information.[From a TIMES obituary])
     Pirates, 1929 (An account of British gunboats tackling piracy in the
       Canton delta.)
     Endless Story, 1931 (Destroyers in WW I)

Forbes, George 1849-1936
     Adventures In Southern Seas, or A Tale of the Sixteenth Century, 1920 (A
       fictionalized and illustrated account of the voyages of Dirk Hartog,
       sixteenth century Dutch explorer of the Antipodes. The account has
       everything; giant sea spiders (octopus), hopping creatures (kangaroos),
       and so on. "It is interesting to read the melodramatic accounts of
       these sixteenth century sailors of what we now know to be quite
       ordinary creatures, well known to every schoolboy." [DG])

Hancock, Harrie Irving 1868-1922
     Motor Boat Club series: (For young readers.)
       The Motor Boat Club and the Wireless; or, The Dot, Dash and Dare
         Cruise, 1909
       The Motor Boat Club Off Long Island; or, A Daring Marine Game at Racing
         Speed, 1909
       The Motor Boat Club of the Kennebec, 1909

Hope, Laura Lee
     Bunny Brown and His Sister Sue on the Rolling Ocean, 1925 (Although Bunny
       Brown gets top billing in the title, little Sue is by no means a shadow
       character in this story and the girls will enjoy it as much as the boys.
       The Brown family embarks on a steamer passage to the West Indies and
       along the way experience a temporary marooning on a tropical isle, the
       discovery of a wild man, the saving of a shipwrecked mariner (the wild
       man) and a general good time by all. For young readers.)

Jackson, Basil 1920-
     Spill!, 1977 (One tiny technical flaw turns the historic first voyage of
       the first submarine supertanker under the frozen Arctic Ocean into a
       potential death sentence for her crew and environmental catastrophe for
       the world.)

Kay, Ross
     Dodging the North Sea Mines, 1915 (WW I tale.)
     The Go-Ahead Boys and the Racing Motor-Boat, 1920 (The boys embark on an
       innocent expedition, a race from Yonkers, New York to the Saint
       Lawrence Valley, but soon run afoul of evil-doers; in this case crude
       canal-boat men, apparently a less desirable element around this time.
       Kay also uses this as an opportunity to impart some useful information
       about canals around the world.)

Kellogg, Rev. Elijah 1813-1901
     Elm Island series: (Set on an island off the Maine coast, may not all be
       The Young Ship-Builders of Elm Island, 1870 (A fine story of a
         youngster who, in love with boats of all kinds, teaches himself the
         art of building them. In spite of an early set-back with his first
         effort (a sailing log canoe) he finally masters the difficulties and
         succeeds in becoming a much sought-after young boat-builder and
         shipwright. "Kellogg's descriptions of life in a small coastal
         fishing and farming community at the turn of the 18th & 19th
         centuries are nothing less than luminous and his portraits of some of
         the characters are uplifting to be sure. Reverend Kellogg has a very
         lyrical style. His descriptions of the surroundings of Elm Island are
         hard to resist. " [DG])
       The Hard-Scrabble of Elm island, 1871
       The Ark of Elm Island
       The Boy Farmers of Elm Island
       Lion Ben of Elm Island

Kingsley, Charles 1819-1875
     Westward Ho!, 1855 (The voyages and adventures of Sir Amyas Leigh during
       the reign of Queen Elizabeth. A tale of swashbuckling, young love,
       villainy, etc., etc.)
     The Water Babies, 1884 (Not strictly nautical, Tom the sooty little
       chimney sweep goes to live beneath the sea and encounters all the
       strange creatures that live there; including the water babies. Image
       Tom's delight then when he becomes one with the magical water babies
       and finds himself clean for the very first time! For young readers.)

Laskier, Frank 1912- (Born in New Brighton; his father was a merchant seaman
  and all six of his sons went to sea apparently.)
     Log Book, 1943 (A fictionalized account of merchant service,  WW II
       German attack, and harrowing survival by a British mechant seaman who
       in real life survived the sinking of a tanker in 1940, came back for
       training as a Merchant Seaman Gunner, and was one of a handful of
       survivors when his next ship was sunk by the ADMIRAL SCHEER early in
       1941; he lost part of a leg as a result, and while in England waiting
       for a prosthesis told his story on the BBC. He shipped out once more,
       and apparently wrote the book in Halifax in 1942. The protagonist is
       named simply Jack, and his full seagoing career is set down briefly:
       he runs away to sea at twelve, learns his trade on a variety of vessels
       on various oceans (meeting several of his seagoing brothers along the
       way), suffers various adventures and misadventures and finally survives
       the sinking of the COURAGEOUS by a nameless surface raider - the only
       truly convincing part of the narrative - and the book ends with Jack
       in his mother's parlor, new wife Betty at his side along with four
       brothers, about to tell his story into a radio microphone... "[Laskier]
       seems to have favored the short-sentence approach; I imagine this went
       over better in 1943 than it would now." [MF])

Lawrence, Iain 1955-
     The Wreckers, 1998 (An adventure yarn set on the Cornish coast in the
       18th century when ships were lured onto the rocks. Shipwrecked after a
       vicious storm, fourteen-year-old John Spencer attempts to save his
       father and himself while also dealing with an evil secret about the
       coastal town where they are stranded. Often compared to TREASURE
       ISLAND. For young readers.)
     The Smugglers, 1999 (A sequel to THE WRECKERS. In eighteenth-century
       England, after his father buys a schooner called the DRAGON, sixteen
       year old John sets out to sail it from Kent to London and becomes
       involved in a dangerous smuggling scheme.)

Long, E. Laurie
     The Trials of the Phideas, 1944 (A novel about the delivery voyage of a
       paddle steamer from the UK to South America.)

Nelson, James
     Revolution at Sea series:
       Lords of the Ocean, 1999 (At the height of the American Revolution,
        Captain Biddlecomb receives orders to smuggle Dr. Benjamin Franklin
        across the Atlantic and into France.)

Nicastro, Nicholas
     The Eighteenth Captain, 1999 (An action-filled novel based on John Paul
       Jones and his naval career, framing the fall-out of the French

Norton, Roy
     Drowned Gold, Being the Story of a Sailor's Life, 1917 (It's not really
       the story of a sailor's life-- it's the story of 3 million dollars in
       sunken gold, deep sea diving, piracy and young love, and all of the
       things which go to make up a good sea yarn.)

Optic, Oliver 1822-1897
     The Boat Club; or, The Bunkers of Rippleton, c1850 (The author uses a
       12-oared gig; a boat which requires absolute coordination and
       cooperation from the rowers, to make the point that that groups in
       society need discipline. The Bunkers of the sub-title are a bunch of
       rebellious boys who make life miserable for many on the shores of an
       upstate New York Lake. After his son Frank has a run-in with the
       Bunker's, Captain Sedley, a retired and well-to do shipmaster, decides
       to form a boat club for his son and his friends. In the course of
       learning to row the boat, they learn cooperation, discipline and
       courage and, of course, manage to outdo the Bunker's with their
       undisciplined and rebellious ways. For young readers.)
     Outward Bound; or, Young America Afloat, 1866 (A local nabob decides that
       a school ship is just the thing for bringing discipline and order into
       the lives of some of the scions of rich families who have a contempt
       for authority. The ship is built and sets sail manned entirely by the
       boys with some veteran sailors for supervision. In something akin to
       The LORD OF THE FLIES much of society's ills become manifested during
       the voyage; lies, deceit, treachery, even a planned mutiny! As he
       describes the machinations of the characters, one gains a truly
       detailed insight into the mind of the manipulator and the politician.
       "A truly riveting tale!" [DG] For young readers.)
     The Yacht Club; or, The Young Boat-Builder, 1874 (A ripping good
       who-dun-it, taking place on Penobscot Bay. "A really good introduction
       to sailing, boat-building and yacht racing for the young reader. And an
       excellent moral into the bargain." [DG] For young readers.)

Otis, James 1848-1912
     A Cruise With Paul Jones; a Story of Naval Warfare in 1778, 1898 (Young
       David Carlton is picked up from a wreck at sea by the American sloop
       RANGER and becomes a powder monkey under the command of John Paul Jones
       and the friendly tutelage of boatswain Reuben Rollins. Jones harasses
       English shipping in the English Channel, burns the merchant fleet at
       Whitehaven and defeats the English sloop of war, DRAKE in the battle at
       Carrickfergus, all of which events are described here from young
       David's point of view. "A good yarn and good history!" [DG])

Perrow, Angeli 1954-
     Captain's Castaway, 1998 (Based on the true story of Seaboy, a friendly
       seafaring dog. When his vessel is wrecked in a storm he crawls ashore
       on nearby Great Duck Island and is found, barely alive, by Sarah, the
       lighthouse-keeper's daughter. Two years pass, and the dog settles in
       happily with his new family. Then, a ship's captain arrives, home from
       distant seas. It is Seaboy's owner, delighted to find his old friend. A
       grief-stricken Sarah must reconcile herself to the loss of a loyal
       companion, but in the end the castaway himself decides where he really

Russell, William Clark 1844-1911 (American novelist who served in the British
  merchant marine, "the prose Homer of the great ocean", recommended by A.
  Conan Doyle.)
     An Ocean Tragedy, 1899 (Mad Sir Wilfred's wife has run off with the
       dashing Colonel Hope-Kennedy in the schooner yacht SHARK, and Sir
       Wilfred means to get her back. Sir Wilfred has armed his yacht, the
       BRIDE, with a long, brass 18-pounder and gone after the fleeing
       couple. The events are many, including the unfortunate death of a
       Portuguese seaman at the hands of the 18-pounder, the haunting of the
       BRIDE, the fortuitous capture of the two "lovers" in mid-ocean, the
       duel on the quarterdeck, the wreck of the BRIDE on the volcanic island
       that wasn't supposed to be there, and, best of all, the fossilized
       galleon on the crest of the island that can only be inhabited by the
       castaways after the water is drained out of her. "There's a reason
       that Russell was considered among the finest writers of sea stories at
       the time, and a reason why Melville dedicated one of his books to
       Russell, and Russell dedicated this one to him. An extraordinary work."

Stone, Raymond
     Tommy Tiptop and His Boat Club, 1914 (Tommy Tiptop is the born leader of
       his neighborhood and is always getting up ideas, teams, projects,
       trips, etc. This time he forms a boat club. He's a nervy and
       responsible little lad and of course everything goes very well indeed
       in the club's first race.)

Wenger, Susan
     The Port-Wine Sea, 1999 (A rousing parody of Patrick O'Brian's
       Aubrey/Maturin series. It is a story about a British naval captain
       during the Napoleonic War, and his friend, a naval physician/espionage
       agent. They set sail once again aboard HMS AGHAST during the War of
       1812 to demonstrate to the upstart Colonies the errors of their ways.
       The doctor/spy tries to establish liaison with the Creek Indians to
       create a diversion to the main British assault. Meanwhile the noble
       Captain is diverted by a teenaged Maryland vixen. Along the way, they
       encounter a skittish horse, a demure skunk, a whooping crane, and an
       escaped colony of termites aboard the ship.)

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