Nautical Fiction List Changes, Version 50 to Version 51
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.
Changes: 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 today.) Dowling, Sherwood Submarine Chums series: (Adventures of a group of young boys in a home-made submarine.) The Cruise of the Gray Whale, 1914  (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  (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  (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 adventures.) 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 hurricane.) 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 series.) 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  (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 O'Brian.) Additions: 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, 1923 Tom Swift and His Giant Magnet; or, Bringing up the Lost Submarine, 1932 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 nautical.) 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 Revolution.) 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 belongs.) 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." [DG]) 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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