C. S. Forester

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C. S. Forester
CS Forester00.jpg
BornCecil Louis Troughton Smith
(1899-08-27)27 August 1899
Cairo, Khedivate of Egypt
Died2 April 1966(1966-04-02) (aged 66)
Fullerton, California
GenreAdventure, drama, sea stories

Cecil Louis Troughton Smith (27 August 1899 – 2 April 1966), known by his pen name Cecil Scott "C. S." Forester, was an English novelist known for writing tales of naval warfare, such as the 12-book Horatio Hornblower series depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic wars. The Hornblower novels A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours were jointly awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1938. His other works include The African Queen (1935, filmed in 1951 by John Huston).

Horatio Hornblower is a fictional Napoleonic Wars–era Royal Navy officer who is the protagonist of a series of novels and stories by C. S. Forester. He was later the subject of films, radio and television programmes, and C. Northcote Parkinson elaborated a definitive biography.

<i>A Ship of the Line</i> book

A Ship of the Line is an historical seafaring novel by C. S. Forester. It follows his fictional hero Horatio Hornblower during his tour as captain of a ship of the line. By internal chronology, A Ship of the Line, which follows The Happy Return, is the seventh book in the series. However, the book, published in 1938, was the second Hornblower novel completed by Forester. It is one of three Hornblower novels adapted into the 1951 British-American film Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N..

<i>Flying Colours</i> (novel) book by C.S. Forester

Flying Colours is a Horatio Hornblower novel by C. S. Forester, originally published 1938 as the third in the series, but now eighth by internal chronology. It describes the adventures of Hornblower and his companions escaping from imprisonment in Napoleonic France and returning to England. It is one of three Hornblower novels adapted into the 1951 British-American film Captain Horatio Hornblower R.N..


Early years

Forester was born in Cairo and, after a family breakup at an early age, moved with his mother to London where he was educated at Alleyn's School and Dulwich College. He began to study medicine at Guy's Hospital but left without completing his degree. Forester wore glasses and was of slender physique; he failed his Army physical and was told that there was no chance that he would be accepted, even though he was of good height and somewhat athletic. He began writing seriously around 1921 using his pen name.

Cairo Capital and largest city of Egypt

Cairo is the capital of Egypt. The city's metropolitan area is one of the largest in Africa, the largest in the Middle East and 15th-largest in the world, and is associated with ancient Egypt, as the famous Giza pyramid complex and the ancient city of Memphis are located in its geographical area. Located near the Nile Delta, modern Cairo was founded in 969 AD by the Fatimid dynasty, but the land composing the present-day city was the site of ancient national capitals whose remnants remain visible in parts of Old Cairo. Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life, and is titled "the city of a thousand minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture. Cairo is considered a World City with a "Beta +" classification according to GaWC.

Alleyns School Independent day school in London

Alleyn's School is a 4–18 mixed, independent, Church of England, day school and sixth form in Dulwich, London, England. It is a registered charity and was originally part of the Alleyn's College of God's Gift charitable foundation, which also included James Allen's Girls' School (JAGS), Dulwich College and their affiliate schools. The school is also listed in the Good Schools Guide.

Dulwich College Independent, day and boarding school in London

Dulwich College is a 2–19 independent, day and boarding school for boys in Dulwich, London, England. It was founded in 1619 by Edward Alleyn, an Elizabethan actor, with the original purpose of educating 12 poor scholars as the foundation of 'God's Gift'.

Second World War

Forester moved to the United States during the Second World War, where he worked for the British Ministry of Information and wrote propaganda to encourage the US to join the Allies. He eventually settled in Berkeley, California. He met Roald Dahl in 1942 while living in Washington, D.C., and Forester encouraged him to write about his experiences in the RAF. [1] According to Dahl's autobiography Lucky Break, Forester asked him about his experiences as a fighter pilot, and this prompted Dahl to write his first story "A Piece of Cake". [1]

Ministry of Information (United Kingdom) United Kingdom government ministry

The Ministry of Information (MOI), headed by the Minister of Information, was a United Kingdom government department created briefly at the end of the First World War and again during the Second World War. Located in Senate House at the University of London during the 1940s, it was the central government department responsible for publicity and propaganda.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Berkeley, California City in California, United States

Berkeley is a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northern Alameda County, California. It is named after the 18th-century Irish bishop and philosopher George Berkeley. It borders the cities of Oakland and Emeryville to the south and the city of Albany and the unincorporated community of Kensington to the north. Its eastern border with Contra Costa County generally follows the ridge of the Berkeley Hills. The 2010 census recorded a population of 112,580.

Literary career

Forester's 1934 science fiction novel The Peacemaker was reprinted in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1948. Famous fantastic mysteries 194802.jpg
Forester's 1934 science fiction novel The Peacemaker was reprinted in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1948.

Forester wrote many novels, but he is best known for the 12-book Horatio Hornblower series depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic Wars. He began the series with Hornblower fairly high in rank in the first novel that he wrote, which was published in 1937. But high demand for more stories led him to fill in Hornblower's life story, and he wrote novels detailing his rise from the rank of midshipman. The last completed novel was published in 1962. Hornblower's fictional feats were based on real events, but Forester wrote the body of the works carefully to avoid entanglements with real world history, so that Hornblower is always off on another mission when a great naval battle occurs during the Napoleonic Wars.

Napoleonic Wars Series of early 19th century European wars

The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major conflicts pitting the French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of European powers formed into various coalitions, financed and usually led by the United Kingdom. The wars stemmed from the unresolved disputes associated with the French Revolution and its resultant conflict. The wars are often categorised into five conflicts, each termed after the coalition that fought Napoleon: the Third Coalition (1805), the Fourth (1806–07), the Fifth (1809), the Sixth (1813), and the Seventh (1815).

Forester's other novels include The African Queen (1935) and The General (1936); Peninsular War novels in Death to the French (published in the United States as Rifleman Dodd) and The Gun (filmed as The Pride and the Passion in 1957); and seafaring stories that did not involve Hornblower, such as Brown on Resolution (1929), The Captain from Connecticut (1941), The Ship (1943), and Hunting the Bismarck (1959), which was used as the basis of the screenplay for the film Sink the Bismarck! (1960). Several of his works were filmed, including The African Queen (1951), directed by John Huston. Forester is also credited as story writer for several movies not based on his published fiction, including Commandos Strike at Dawn (1942).

<i>The African Queen</i> (novel) novel by C. S. Forester

The African Queen is a 1935 novel written by English author C. S. Forester. It was adapted into the 1951 film of the same name.

<i>The General</i> (C. S. Forester novel) novel by C. S. Forester

The General is a 1936 novel by C. S. Forester, who is also known for his Horatio Hornblower novels and 1935's The African Queen.

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

He wrote several volumes of short stories set during the Second World War. Those in The Nightmare (1954) were based on events in Nazi Germany, ending at the Nuremberg trials. Stories in The Man in the Yellow Raft (1969) followed the career of the destroyer USS Boon, while many of those in Gold from Crete (1971) followed the destroyer HMS Apache. The last of the stories in Gold from Crete was "If Hitler had invaded England", which offers an imagined sequence of events starting with Hitler's attempt to implement Operation Sea Lion, and culminating in the early military defeat of Nazi Germany in the summer of 1941. His non-fiction seafaring works include The Age of Fighting Sail (1956), an account of the sea battles between Great Britain and the United States in the War of 1812.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

Nuremberg trials series of military trials at the end of World War II

The Nuremberg trials were a series of military tribunals held after World War II by the Allied forces under international law and the laws of war. The trials were most notable for the prosecution of prominent members of the political, military, judicial, and economic leadership of Nazi Germany, who planned, carried out, or otherwise participated in the Holocaust and other war crimes. The trials were held in Nuremberg, Germany, and their decisions marked a turning point between classical and contemporary international law.

Adolf Hitler Leader of Germany from 1934 to 1945

Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland on 1 September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.

Forester also published the crime novels Payment Deferred (1926) and Plain Murder (1930), as well as two children's books. Poo-Poo and the Dragons (1942) was created as a series of stories told to his son George to encourage him to finish his meals. George had mild food allergies which kept him feeling unwell, and he needed encouragement to eat. [2] The Barbary Pirates (1953) is a children's history of early 19th-century pirates.

Forester appeared as a contestant on the television quiz program You Bet Your Life hosted by Groucho Marx, in an episode broadcast on 1 November 1956. [3] A previously unknown novel of Forester's entitled The Pursued was discovered in 2003 and published by Penguin Classics on 3 November 2011. [4] [5]

Personal life

He married Kathleen Belcher in 1926 and they had two sons, John and George Forester. The couple divorced in 1945. In 1947, he married Dorothy Foster. John Forester wrote a two-volume biography of his father, including many elements of Forester's life which only became clear to his son after his death. [6] [7]


Horatio Hornblower

  1. 1950 Mr. Midshipman Hornblower . Michael Joseph.
  2. 1941 "The Hand of Destiny". Collier's
  3. 1950 "Hornblower and the Widow McCool" ("Hornblower’s Temptation" ""Hornblower and the Big Decision"). The Saturday Evening Post
  4. 1952 Lieutenant Hornblower . Michael Joseph.
  5. 1962 Hornblower and the Hotspur . Michael Joseph.
  6. 1967 Hornblower and the Crisis, an unfinished novel. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Hornblower During the Crisis (posthumous)
  7. 1953 Hornblower and the Atropos . Michael Joseph.
  8. 1937 The Happy Return . Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Beat to Quarters
  9. 1938 A Ship of the Line . Michael Joseph.
  10. 1941 "Hornblower's Charitable Offering". Argosy (magazine)
  11. 1938 Flying Colours . Michael Joseph.
  12. 1941 "Hornblower and His Majesty". Collier's
  13. 1945 The Commodore . Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Commodore Hornblower
  14. 1946 Lord Hornblower . Michael Joseph.
  15. 1958 Hornblower in the West Indies . Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
  16. 1967 "The Last Encounter". Argosy (magazine) (posthumous)
  17. 1964 The Hornblower Companion. Michael Joseph. (Supplementary book comprising another short story, "The Point and the Edge" only as an outline, "The Hornblower Atlas," and "Some Personal Notes,")


  1. 1964 The Young Hornblower. (a compilation of books 1, 2 & 3). Michael Joseph.
  2. 1965 Captain Hornblower (a compilation of books 5, 6 & 7). Michael Joseph.
  3. 1968 Admiral Hornblower (a compilation of books 8, 9, 10 & 11). Michael Joseph.
  4. 2011 Hornblower Addendum – Five Short Stories (originally published in magazines)

Other novels



Plays in 3 acts; John Lane


See also

Further reading

Sternlicht, Sanford V., C.S. Forester and the Hornblower saga (Syracuse University Press, 1999)

Van der Kiste, John, C.S. Forester's Crime Noir: A view of the murder stories (KDP, 2018)

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<i>Hornblower</i> (TV series) Series of British television films

Hornblower is the umbrella title of a series of British historical fiction war television films based on three of C. S. Forester's ten novels about the fictional character Horatio Hornblower, a Royal Navy officer during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

Dudley Bernard Egerton Pope was a British writer of both nautical fiction and history, most notable for his Lord Ramage series of historical novels. Greatly inspired by C.S. Forester, Pope was one of the most successful authors to explore the genre of nautical fiction, often compared to Patrick O'Brian.

<i>Captain Horatio Hornblower</i> 1951 film by Raoul Walsh

Captain Horatio Hornblower is a 1951 British-American naval swashbuckling war film in Technicolor from Warner Bros., produced by Gerry Mitchell, directed by Raoul Walsh, that stars Gregory Peck, Virginia Mayo, Robert Beatty and Terence Morgan.

<i>Lieutenant Hornblower</i> book by C.S. Forester

Lieutenant Hornblower is a Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester. It is the second book in the series chronologically, but the seventh by order of publication.

<i>Hornblower and the Hotspur</i> book by C.S. Forester

Hornblower and the Hotspur is a Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester.

The Even Chance is the first of eight Hornblower television adaptations relating the exploits of Horatio Hornblower, the protagonist in a series of novels and short stories by C.S. Forester. The Even Chance is the name given to this first film in the United Kingdom, while in the United States it is known as The Duel. Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd plays the title role.

<i>The Commodore</i> book by C.S. Forester

The Commodore is a Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester. It was published in the United States under the title Commodore Hornblower.

<i>Hornblower in the West Indies</i> book by C.S. Forester

Hornblower in the West Indies, or alternately Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies, is one of the novels in the series that C. S. Forester wrote about fictional Royal Navy officer Horatio Hornblower.

<i>Hornblower and the Crisis</i> book by C.S. Forester

Hornblower and the Crisis is a 1967 historical novel by C. S. Forester. It forms part of the Horatio Hornblower series, and as a result of Forester's death in 1966, it was left unfinished. There is a one-page summary of the last several chapters of the book found on the final page, taken from notes left behind from the author. It was the eleventh and last book of the series to be published, but it is fourth in chronological sequence.

<i>Hornblower and the Atropos</i> book by C.S. Forester

Hornblower and the Atropos is a 1953 historical novel by C.S. Forester.

"Hornblower and the Widow McCool" is a short story by C. S. Forester featuring his fictional naval hero Horatio Hornblower. It was first published in the 9 December 1950 issue of The Saturday Evening Post as "Hornblower's Temptation" and then in the UK in the April 1951 Argosy as "Hornblower and the Big Decision." It was published as "Hornblower and the Widow McCool" along with the unfinished novel Hornblower and the Crisis and the short story "The Last Encounter" in 1967, after Forester's death. The story is set after Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and before Lieutenant Hornblower.

Captain William Bush RN is a fictional character in C. S. Forester's Horatio Hornblower series. He is Hornblower's best friend, and serves with Hornblower in the Royal Navy prior to the Peace of Amiens and again during the Napoleonic Wars.

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"The Last Encounter" is a short story by C. S. Forester, providing the final chapter in the life of his fictional naval hero, Horatio Hornblower. It was published together with the unfinished novel Hornblower and the Crisis and another short story, "Hornblower and the Widow McCool".

<i>The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck</i> novel by C. S. Forester

The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck, also published as Hunting the Bismark, was written by C.S. Forester (1899-1966), the author of the popular Horatio Hornblower series of naval-themed books. Closely based on the actual naval battle, the book is a novel with fictionalized dialogue and incidents.

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  1. 1 2 Sturrock, Donald (2010). Storyteller: The Life of Roald Dahl. p. 168. Harper Collins. Retrieved 28 October 2012
  2. Poo-Poo and the Dragons: Preface
  3. You Bet Your Life #56-06 C. S. Forrester, author of Horatio Hornblower (Name, 1 November 1956). YouTube. 26 July 2017.
  4. Lost CS Forester book The Pursued to be published
  5. C. S. Forester. The Pursued. ISBN   9780141198071.
  6. Forester, John (2000). Novelist & Storyteller: The Life of C. S. Forester (2 volumes) (first ed.). Lemon Grove, CA: John Forester. ISBN   978-0-940558-04-5.
  7. Forester, John (2013). Novelist & Storyteller: The Life of C. S. Forester (PDF) (second ed.). Lake Oswego, OR: eNet Press. ISBN   978-1-61886-004-0 . Retrieved 23 July 2014.. Publisher's excerpt
  8. "A note on the text", endnote by Lawrence Brewer, p. 220