Horatio Hornblower

From Academic Kids

Horatio Hornblower is a fictional officer in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, originally the protagonist of a series of novels by C. S. Forester, and later the subject of films and television programs.



According to Forester, Hornblower was born on July 4, 1776.

Hornblower as an expert mathematician is a skilled pilot and navigator. He is philosophically opposed to capital punishment, to the extent that he contrives escape for a crewman (his personal steward) condemned to hanging at the yard-arm in Hornblower and the Hotspur. He does this despite believing that severe corporal punishment (e.g. flogging round the fleet) is the only way to maintain discipline in the face of severe privation. Despite near-constant success, he judges himself inadequate, professionally and personally. He feels himself isolated from those around him (including both his wives and his best friend, Bush), but strives to shield them from his moods and savages himself for failing to possess those qualities of theirs he sees as desirable. These perceived personal deficiencies make him a very self-conscious, lonely, introspective man, and the enforced isolation of a captain in the Royal Navy make him lonelier still.

As in the novels of Frederick Marryat and Patrick O'Brian, many of Hornblower's exploits are based upon those of Horatio Nelson and Thomas Cochrane. Brian Perett has written a book The Real Hornblower: The Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon, GCB, ISBN 1557509689, presenting the case for a different inspiration.

A "biography" of Hornblower, called The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower, was published in 1970 by C. Northcote Parkinson.

Early Career

Hornblower's early exploits include: confronting Spanish fire ships which interrupt (fortunately for Hornblower) his first examination for Lieutenant; suffering incarceration as a Spanish prisoner-of-war in el Ferrol; surviving a Captain with paranoid schizophrenia; orchestrating Nelson's funeral procession along the Thames and having to deal with the near-sinking of the barge conveying Nelson's coffin; recovering sunken treasure from the bottom of Marmorice Bay with the aid of pearl divers from Ceylon; having his ship gifted out from under him to the King of the Two Sicilies for diplomatic reasons - following which on his return to England he finds his two young children dying of the smallpox. He later makes a long, difficult voyage round the Horn, keeping out of sight of land in the Pacific, meets a mad rebel against the Spanish Colonial authorities, twice defeats the same ship of superior force, and brings home the Duke of Wellington's youngest sister, Lady Barbara Wellesley.

Later Career

After these exploits commanding a frigate, he is given the command of HMS Sutherland, a ship of the line, and while waiting at his Mediterranean rendezvous for the rest of the squadron - and its commander - to arrive, carries out a series of pinprick raids on the south coast of France. He later takes his ship into action off Toulon against a French squadron of four sail of the line where it is very badly damaged and, with two-thirds of its crew incapacitated, he has to surrender to the French. He is imprisoned and sent off with his coxswain Brown and the injured Bush to Paris for trial and execution. During this journey Hornblower breaks himself and his companions free of their escort, and after a winter sojourn at the chateau of one Comte de Graay sails down the river Loire and at Nantes at the coast recaptures a Royal Navy cutter, the Witch of Endor.

Hornblower is court-martialed for the loss of the Sutherland but is "gloriously acquitted." Among the honors he receives is a knighthood. However, when he arrives home, Maria has died in childbirth, and his infant son in the care of Lady Barbara. He marries Lady Barbara after a decent interval and settles in the country, in Kent. After this, he is sent as Commodore on a mission to the Baltic, where he must serve as a diplomat as much as an officer. He is involved in the defense of Riga against the French army, where he encounters Karl von Clausewitz.

He returns ill with typhus to England, yet soon after his recovery goes off to bring in mutineers off the coast of France. After bringing in the mutinous ship, he sets up the return of the Bourbons to France, and is made a peer of the realm, Lord Hornblower. When Napoleon returns from exile at the start of the Hundred Days, Hornblower is at the estate of the Comte de Graay, and leads a Royalist Guerrilla movement; after capture by the French he is about to be shot under an earlier warrant for his execution when news arrives of Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. After several years ashore, he is sent to be the Commander-in-Chief of the West Indies. He foils an expedition which is to land a company of Napoleon's Imperial Guard on Saint Helena (to try to release the Emperor), captures a slave ship, and encounters Simón Bolívar's army. The last Forester wrote of him, he was Admiral of the Fleet, living in retirement in Kent, and is able to speed to France Napoleon III, who has been delayed by a series of transport mishaps.

Forester offers two different brief summaries of Hornblower's career. The first was in the first chapter of The Happy Return, which was the first Hornblower novel written. The second occurs mid-way through The Commodore, when Czar Nicholas asks him to describe his career. The second account is incompatible with the first. The first account would have made Hornblower about five years older than the second. The second account is compatible with the rest of Hornblower's career.

The Hornblower novels

The novels, in the order they were written:

  1. The Happy Return (1937, called Beat to Quarters in the US)
  2. A Ship of the Line (1938, called simply Ship of the Line in the US)
  3. Flying Colours (1938, spelled Flying Colors in the US)
  4. The Commodore (1945, called Commodore Hornblower in the US)
  5. Lord Hornblower (1946)
  6. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (1950, collected short stories)
  7. Lieutenant Hornblower (1952)
  8. Hornblower and the Atropos (1953)
  9. Hornblower in the West Indies (1958)
  10. Hornblower and the Hotspur (1962)
  11. Hornblower and the Crisis (1967, unfinished novel + short stories)

In chronological order:

Hornblower's shipmates

A list of all the Royal Naval sea-going characters in the Hornblower novels

  • Bailey — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Benskin — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Brown — Hornblower faithful and burly coxswain, and later domestic servant
  • William Bush — Hornblower's "closest friend" and loyal subordinate. Briefly his superior officer in Lieutenant Hornblower, but happy for Hornblower to be promoted over him. Hornblower's second-in-command in HMS Hotspur, HMS Lydia, and HMS Sutherland and his flag-captain in HMS Nonsuch.
  • Chump the Negro — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia, missing in action
  • Clay — midshipman HMS Lydia, killed in action
  • Clifton, James — boatswain's mate, HMS Lydia, killed in action
  • Crystal — sailing master of HMS Lydia
  • Dawson — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia, missing in action
  • Doughty; captain's steward, deserted
  • Galbraith, Donald Scott — third lieutenant, HMS Lydia, killed in action
  • Gerard — second lieutenant, HMS Lydia
  • Gray — master's mate, HMS Lydia, HMS Sutherland
  • Hall — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Hankey — surgeon in HMS Lydia, dies before the start of The Happy Return
  • Harper — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia, missing in action
  • Harrison — boatswain on board HMS Lydia
  • Holroyd — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Hooker — midshipman on board HMS Lydia
  • Howell — carpenter, HMS Lydia
  • Hudson — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Jenkins — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Knyvett — midshipman, HMS Lydia
  • Laurie — purser's steward/loblolly boy (sick berth attendant), HMS Lydia
  • MacEvoy — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Marsh — gunner, HMS Lydia
  • North — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia, missing in action
  • Polwheal — Captain's steward, HMS Lydia
  • Poole — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Price — master-at-arms, HMS Sutherland
  • Owen — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Rayner — fourth lieutenant, HMS Lydia
  • Savage, Howard — midshipman on board HMS Lydia, killed in action
  • Simmonds, Samuel — Lieutenant, Royal Marines, HMS Lydia
  • Sullivan — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia, fiddler
  • Summers, John — master's mate, HMS Lydia, killed in action
  • Thompson — captain of the forecastle, HMS Sutherland
  • Tooms — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Vincent, Henry — boatswain's mate, HMS Lydia, killed in action
  • Whipple — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Wilcox — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Williams — ordinary seaman, HMS Lydia
  • Wood — purser, HMS Lydia

Real Royal Naval officers who appear in the novels

Hornblower's ships

Hornblower in other media

External link

pl:Horatio Hornblower zh:霍雷肖霍恩布洛尔


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