Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Mr. Midshipman Easy by Frederick Marryat

This is more a tip than a review. For anyone who might be researching a regency that has any sort of sea adventure to it, this is a must read, right up there with Patrick O'Brien and C.S. Forester. 

You may have a little trouble finding Marryat in stores, although there are lots of options on Amazon and they have been reprinted many times. Marryat actually served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic wars, starting as a 14 year old midshipman in 1806. He worked his way up and became a Post Captain in 1830. He published many books including Mr. Midshipman Easy, Peter Simple, Jacob Faithful, The King's Own and several more. He was credited with sending many men to sea, because of the lifestyle and adventures he painted.

For other novelists he gives us a glimpse into his world that was true not just to its terminologies, (although that is very helpful when it is footnoted!) but to its ideals, its culture, its very heart. His stories are essentially lighthearted so some realities are glossed over, however he would be considered original source material when it comes to custom and habits at sea. Of course his prejudices, and those of his age, also color his world, so be prepared for that.

Anyway as much research as I have done into this area and I had never heard of him until recently, so I thought the info might be helpful to someone else. If you do happen to find Mr. Midshipman Easy, (his most popular), watch for the scene with the duel. It is a hoot.

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