C. S. Forester

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C. S. Forester
File:CS Forester00.jpg
Born (1899-08-27)27 August 1899
Cairo, Khedivate of Egypt
Died 2 April 1966(1966-04-02) (aged 66)
Fullerton, California, U.S.
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Genre Adventure, 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. His other works include The African Queen (1935; filmed in 1951 by John Huston), as well as A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours, which were jointly awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1938.

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, south London. At Alleyn's he was a contemporary of E.S. Hornblower, who died on active service with the Canadian Infantry in 1917.[citation needed] He began to study medicine at Guy's Hospital, London, but left without completing his degree. Forester had always worn glasses and been thin. Trying to enlist in the army, he failed his physical and was told there was not a chance that he would be accepted, even though he was of good height and somewhat athletic. Around 1921, after leaving Guy's, he began writing seriously using his pen name.

World War II

During World War II, Forester moved to the United States where he worked for the British Information Service and wrote propaganda to encourage the US to join the Allies. He eventually settled in Berkeley, California. While living in Washington, D.C., he met a young British intelligence officer named Roald Dahl in early 1942, whose experiences in the RAF he had heard about, and encouraged him to write about them.[1] According to Dahl's autobiographical Lucky Break, Forester asked Dahl about his experiences as a fighter pilot. This prompted Dahl to write his first story, "A Piece of Cake".[1]

Literary career

Forester wrote many novels. 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, published in 1937. The last completed novel was published in 1962. With demand for more stories, Forester filled in Hornblower's back story, in effect. 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 Hornblower is always off on another mission when a great naval victory occurs during the Napoleonic Wars. This is a contrast to the writer Patrick O'Brian, who began a series in the same historic era in 1969, who put his Royal Navy captain Jack Aubrey in the midst of some real victories, or watching others as a prisoner of war.

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).

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 the latter book - "If Hitler had invaded England" - 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.[citation needed]

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

C. S. Forester appeared as a contestant on the TV quiz program You Bet Your Life, hosted by Groucho Marx, in an episode telecast on 1 November 1956.[3]

A "lost" novel of Forester's, The Pursued, was discovered in 2003 and bought at an auction and was published by Penguin Classics on 3 November 2011.[4][5]


He married Kathleen Belcher in 1926, having two sons (John and George Forester), but the couple divorced in 1945. His elder son, John Forester, wrote a two-volume biography of his father.[6][7] In 1947, he married Dorothy Foster.

Works by Forester

  • 1922 Victor Emmanuel II. Methuen?
  • 1924 A Pawn among Kings. Methuen.
  • 1924 Napoleon and his Court. Methuen.
  • 1924 The Paid Piper. Methuen.
  • 1925 Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress. Methuen.
  • 1926 Payment Deferred. Methuen.
  • 1927 Love Lies Dreaming. John Lane.
  • 1927 One Wonderful Week. John Lane.
  • 1927 Victor Emmanuel II and the Union of Italy. Methuen.
  • 1928 The Daughter of the Hawk. John Lane.
  • 1928 Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre. Methuen.
  • 1929 Brown on Resolution. John Lane.
  • 1929 Nelson. John Lane.
  • 1929 The Voyage of the Annie Marble. John Lane.
  • 1930 Plain Murder. John Lane.
  • 1930 The Annie Marble in Germany. John Lane.
  • 1931 Two-and-Twenty. John Lane.
  • 1931 U 97, a Play in 3 Acts. John Lane.
  • 1932 Death to the French. John Lane. Published in the US as Rifleman Dodd. Little Brown.
  • 1933 The Gun. John Lane.
  • 1933 Nurse Cavell. (a Play in 3 Acts, with C. E. Bechhofer Roberts) John Lane.
  • 1934 The Peacemaker. Heinemann.
  • 1935 The African Queen. Heinemann.
  • 1935 The Pursued (a lost novel, not published until 2011, see below).
  • 1936 The General. Michael Joseph.
  • 1936 Marionettes at Home. Michael Joseph.
  • 1937 The Happy Return. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Beat to Quarters
  • 1938 A Ship of the Line. Michael Joseph.
  • 1938 Flying Colours. Michael Joseph.
  • 1940 The Earthly Paradise. Michael Joseph.
  • 1941 The Captain from Connecticut. Michael Joseph.
  • 1942 Poo-Poo and the Dragons. Michael Joseph.
  • 1943 The Ship. Michael Joseph.
  • 1943 The Barbary Pirates. Lyonsmith
  • 1944 The Bedchamber Mystery. to which is added the story of The Eleven Deckchairs and Modernity and Maternity. S. J. Reginald Saunders. Published in the US as Three Matronly Mysteries. eNet Press.
  • 1945 The Commodore. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Commodore Hornblower
  • 1946 Lord Hornblower. Michael Joseph.
  • 1948 The Sky and the Forest. Michael Joseph.
  • 1950 Mr. Midshipman Hornblower. Michael Joseph.
  • 1950 Randall and the River of Time. Michael Joseph.
  • 1952 Lieutenant Hornblower. Michael Joseph.
  • 1953 Hornblower and the Atropos. Michael Joseph.
  • 1953 The Adventures of John Wetherell. Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  • 1954 The Nightmare. Michael Joseph.
  • 1955 The Good Shepherd. Michael Joseph.
  • 1957 The Naval War of 1812. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as The Age of Fighting Sail
  • 1958 Hornblower in the West Indies. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies
  • 1959 Hunting the Bismarck. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as The Last Nine Days of the Bismark
  • 1962 Hornblower and the Hotspur. Michael Joseph.
  • 1964 The Young Hornblower. (a compilation of books 1, 2 & 3). Michael Joseph.
  • 1964 The Hornblower Companion. Michael Joseph.
  • 1965 Captain Hornblower (a compilation of books 5, 6 & 7). Michael Joseph.
  • 1967 Hornblower and the Crisis, an unfinished novel. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as Hornblower During the Crisis
  • 1967 Long before Forty. Michael Joseph.
  • 1968 Admiral Hornblower (a compilation of books 8, 9, 10 & 11). Michael Joseph.
  • 1969 The Man in the Yellow Raft. Michael Joseph.
  • 1971 Gold from Crete. Michael Joseph.
  • 2011 Hornblower Addendum – Five Short Stories (originally published in magazines)
  • 2011 The Pursued (a lost novel rediscovered in 1999), published by Penguin Classics[8]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 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', Nov 1, 1956). YouTube. 23 November 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Lost CS Forester book The Pursued to be published
  5. "The Pursued: Amazon.co.uk: C.S. Forester: 9780141198071: Books". amazon.co.uk.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. Publisher's excerpt
  8. "A note on the text", endnote by Lawrence Brewer, p. 220

External links