The naval novel has had a recent comeback with the novels of Patrick O'Brian, and the TV series with Horatio Hornblower.
Patrick O'Brian wrote his series of 20 novels about Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin from 1970 until his death in 2000, and had he lived longer the series would have had more volumes. Click for an overview of the novels, or more information about the individual novels.
C.S. Forester's series of novels about the life and career of Horatio Hornblower was written between 1950 and Forester's death in 1966. The action is set in the times of the Napoleonic wars, and we follow Horatio as he goes from midshipman to admiral in the Royal Navy. There is more action and less reflection in these novels than in the novels of O'Brian, but - in spite of or because of this - they have had an enormous following. The novels weren't written in historical sequence, but the 10 novels are found in sequence in these three collections, which are good value for money:
Hornblower During the Crisis is a volume containing an unfinished novel, which belongs right after Hornblower and the Hotspur, and two short stories.
The novels - or at least the characters - have been adapted for TV, resulting in a number of Hornblower TV series, well worth seeing.
An older author, almost from the Napoleonic ages or at least from an age when Napoleon was still remembered, is (Captain) Frederic Marryat. He wrote a number of novels set in the Royal Navy in Napoleonic times, among his characters are Midshipman Easy. He is also remembered for his The Children of the New Forest, set during the Civil War.
Alistar MacLean's first book was HMS Ulysses, an immediate success and by some reckoned as his only serious work. It is the story of a battered and disillusioned warship, escorting an ill-fated convoy en route for Murmansk during WWII.
To be continued....
This page was last updated on 05.02.2005.
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