C. S. Forester

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. Two of the Hornblower books, 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).

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

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. He began to study medicine at Guy's Hospital, London, but left without completing his degree. Forester had always worn glasses and been of slender physique. 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. The name of his primary literary character Hornblower was apparently taken from a fellow Alleyn's pupil. A Hornblower is listed on the 1914–1918 War Memorial at the School.

Second World War

During the Second World War, Forester moved to the United States, 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. In 1942, while living in Washington, D.C., he met a young British intelligence officer named Roald Dahl, 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

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Forester's 1934 SF novel The Peacemaker was reprinted in Famous Fantastic Mysteries in 1948.

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 life 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 that Hornblower is always off on another mission when a great naval battle occurs during the Napoleonic Wars.

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 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.

In addition to his novels of seafaring life, Forester published two crime novels (Payment Deferred (1926) and Plain Murder (1930)) and two children's books. 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 Barbary Pirates (1953) is a children's history of early 19th-century pirates.

C. S. Forester appeared as a contestant on the television quiz programme You Bet Your Life, hosted by Groucho Marx, in an episode broadcast 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]

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

  • 1924 A Pawn among Kings. Methuen.
  • 1924 The Paid Piper. Methuen.
  • 1926 Payment Deferred. Methuen.
  • 1927 Love Lies Dreaming. John Lane.
  • 1927 The Wonderful Week. John Lane.
  • 1928 The Daughter of the Hawk. John Lane.
  • 1929 Brown on Resolution. John Lane.
  • 1930 Plain Murder. John Lane.
  • 1931 Two-and-Twenty. John Lane.
  • 1932 Death to the French. John Lane. Published in the US as Rifleman Dodd. Little Brown.
  • 1933 The Gun. John Lane.
  • 1934 The Peacemaker. Heinemann.
  • 1935 The African Queen. Heinemann.
  • 1935 The Pursued (a lost novel rediscovered in 1999), unpublished until 2011, published posthumously by Penguin Classics[8]
  • 1936 The General. Michael Joseph.
  • 1936 Marionettes at Home. Michael Joseph.
  • 1940 The Earthly Paradise. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as To the Indies.
  • 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
  • 1948 The Sky and the Forest. Michael Joseph.
  • 1950 Randall and the River of Time. Michael Joseph.
  • 1955 The Good Shepherd. Michael Joseph.


  • 1967 Long before Forty. Michael Joseph.
  • 1971 Gold from Crete. Michael Joseph.


  • 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
  • 1954 The Nightmare. Michael Joseph
  • 1969 The Man in the Yellow Raft. Michael Joseph (posthumous)

Plays in 3 acts; John Lane


  • 1922 Victor Emmanuel II. Methuen (?)
  • 1927 Victor Emmanuel II and the Union of Italy. Methuen.
  • 1924 Napoleon and his Court. Methuen.
  • 1925 Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress. Methuen.
  • 1928 Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre. Methuen.
  • 1929 Lord Nelson. John Lane.
  • 1929 The Voyage of the Annie Marble. John Lane.
  • 1930 The Annie Marble in Germany. John Lane.
  • 1936 Marionettes at Home. Michael Joseph Ltd.
  • 1953 The Adventures of John Wetherell. Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  • 1957 The Naval War of 1812. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as The Age of Fighting Sail
  • 1959 Hunting the Bismarck. Michael Joseph. Published in the US as The Last Nine Days of the Bismark and Sink the Bismarck

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)


  1. ^ a b 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

External links

Brown on Resolution

For the first (1935) film of the novel, see Brown on Resolution (film). For the second (1953) film, see Sailor of the King.Brown on Resolution is a 1929 nautical novel written by C. S. Forester. It is set during World War I. The hero of the novel, seaman Brown, is the sole able-bodied survivor of a sunken British warship, who is able single-handedly to discomfit its attacker, a German cruiser, long enough to ensure its destruction by its pursuers.

Death to the French

Death to the French is a 1932 novel of the Peninsular War during the Napoleonic Wars, written by C. S. Forester, the author of the Horatio Hornblower novels. It was also published in the United States under the title Rifleman Dodd.

Dudley Pope

Dudley Bernard Egerton Pope (29 December 1925 – 25 April 1997) 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.

Greyhound (film)

Greyhound is an upcoming war film directed by Aaron Schneider and starring Tom Hanks, who also serves as writer and producer. It is based on The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester. The film also stars Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Elisabeth Shue, Stephen Graham and Rob Morgan, and follows a Navy commander in the early days of World War II, as he tries to lead his Destroyer past a group of German U-boats. The film is scheduled to be released in the United States on May 8, 2020.

Hornblower and the Crisis

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.

Several other writers have written conclusions, notable efforts being that of Bob Smith, member of the C S Forester Society, published in 2010 and The Jamaican Affair by John Mahon, published in 2012 as an ebook by eNetPress.

Hornblower and the Widow McCool

"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". In 1967, after the author's death, it was published together with the unfinished novel Hornblower and the Crisis and another short story, "The Last Encounter" as "Hornblower and the Widow McCool". The story was published and is set after Mr. Midshipman Hornblower and before Lieutenant Hornblower.

Lieutenant Hornblower

Lieutenant Hornblower (published 1952) 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.

The book is unique in the series in being told not from Horatio Hornblower's point of view, but rather from Bush's. This helped Forester to explain Hornblower's unsuitable first marriage besides giving an objective view of Hornblower himself. This unusual narrative perspective also allows Forester to sustain a mystery, advanced hint by hint in the course of the novel, about how Captain Sawyer came to be injured—an event possibly witnessed by Hornblower.

Lilliput (magazine)

Lilliput was a small-format British monthly magazine of humour, short stories, photographs and the arts, founded in 1937 by the photojournalist Stefan Lorant. The first issue came out in July and it was sold shortly after to Edward Hulton, when editorship was taken over by Tom Hopkinson in 1940. During the 1950s Lilliput was edited by Jack Hargreaves. It had a reputation for publishing what were, for the time, fairly daring photographs of female nudes.

Contributors included H. E. Bates, Sir Max Beerbohm, James Boswell, Nigel Balchin (author), Bill Brandt, Brassaï, Patrick Campbell, C.E.M. Joad, Aleister Crowley, Robert Doisneau, Dominick Elwes, Ronald Ferns, C. S. Forester, John Glashan, Sydney Jacobson, Robert Graves, Michael Heath, Constant Lambert, Ergy Landau, Nancy Mitford, Stephen Potter, V. S. Pritchett, E. Arnot Robertson, Murray Sayle, Ronald Searle, Sir Sacheverell Sitwell, and Ylla. In August 1960 it was absorbed into Men Only (which only later became pornographic).

The first 147 issues (until late 1949) had covers illustrated by Walter Trier with each design depicting a man, a woman, and a small Scottish Terrier dog in various situations and periods.

Lilliput Review, an American periodical that started in 1989, is unrelated.

List of ship names of the Royal Navy

This is an alphabetical list of the names of all ships that have been in service with the Royal Navy, or with predecessor fleets formally in the service of the Kingdom of England or the Commonwealth of England. The list also includes fictional vessels which have prominently featured in literature about the Royal Navy. Many of the names have been re-used over the years and thus represent more than one ship.

Altogether over 13,000 ships have been in service with the Royal Navy.Note that, unlike many other naval services, the Royal Navy designates certain types of shore establishment (e.g. barracks, naval air stations and training establishments) as "ships" and names them accordingly. These establishments are often referred to in service slang as stone frigates.

Payment Deferred

Payment Deferred is a crime novel by C.S. Forester, first published in 1926.

William Marble is a bank clerk living in south London with a wife, Annie, and two teenage children, Winifred ('Winnie') and John, desperately worried about money and unable to control Annie's spending. One evening without warning they are visited by his recently orphaned and very rich young nephew, James Medland, who has a large amount of cash on him. Unable to resist the opportunity put in his way, William Marble sends his wife to bed early that night, saying that he wants to talk business and suggests she pleads a headache so as not to seem unsociable. He then slips poison in his nephew's drink, the latter dies and William buries him in the back garden under cover of darkness that night.

Some lucky foreign currency speculation with his ill-gotten gains brings William Marble untold fortune. Annie assumes at first that her husband was given or lent the money by James, and she says that now they can afford it, she wants them to move to a better house with an attractive garden. He is unable to move for fear of anyone discovering the terrible secret, hardly dares to leave the premises for fear that somebody will disturb the garden, and his character is transformed by what he has done.

Eventually Annie stumbles on the truth, but feeling that her husband still loves her, despite their dreary life together, she keeps her own counsel. But when she also finds that her husband has been having an affair with a local dressmaker who is really only interested in him because of his money, she is in despair. John returns home early from a family holiday one day, and discovers his father and his father's lover in a compromising position. In a state of shock he rides off on his motorcycle, crashing it and killing himself. Winnie has been sent to a better girls' school, becomes increasingly haughty and impatient with her parents, and walks out on them after a bitter argument. With nothing to live for, Annie falls ill with influenza, and becomes resigned to death. When nature does not take its course, she commits suicide by drinking the same poison that William used to murder his nephew. The doctor calls in the police, and the fate William has so long dreaded comes to pass when he is put on trial and hanged for her murder.

The novel was made into a 1931 Broadway play and a 1932 film, both starring Charles Laughton as William Marble. The character of John is written out of both play and film.

Payment Deferred (film)

Payment Deferred is a 1932 American pre-Code crime drama film, starring Charles Laughton as a man so desperate for money, he resorts to murder. It was based on the play of the same name by Jeffrey Dell, which was in turn based on the novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. Laughton also played the lead role in the play, which opened on Broadway on September 30, 1931 and ran for 70 performances.

The African Queen (film)

The African Queen is a 1951 British-American adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. The screenplay was adapted by James Agee, John Huston, John Collier and Peter Viertel. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff and had a music score by Allan Gray. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar), and Katharine Hepburn with Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Walter Gotell, Richard Marner and Theodore Bikel.The African Queen was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1994, with the Library of Congress deeming it "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". The film holds a 98% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 41 reviews.

The African Queen (novel)

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.

The General (C. S. Forester novel)

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.

The General follows the career of a professional soldier, Herbert Curzon, from his service as a junior officer in the Second Boer War through his experiences as a senior commander in the Great War. While personally courageous and dedicated, Curzon is otherwise unexceptional: an officer like many others, and it is the very ordinariness of Forester's character that serves to give the novel power.

The Good Shepherd (novel)

The Good Shepherd (1955) is a nautical and war novel by C.S. Forester, best known as the creator of fictional Royal Navy officer Horatio Hornblower.

The Gun (novel)

The Gun is a novel by C.S. Forester about an imaginary series of incidents involving a single eighteen-pounder cannon during the Peninsular War (1807-1814.) The book was first published in 1933 and has as its background the brutal war of liberation of Spanish and Portuguese forces (regular and partisans) and their English allies against the occupying armies of Napoleonic France.As the story begins, the titular huge bronze cannon is abandoned by the remnants of a Spanish army retreating after their defeat in the Battle of Espinosa. The local people employ it in their rebellion against the French, but are eventually forced to hide it away beneath a pile of stone to prevent its capture. Years later, a group of guerrilleros learn of its location and conscript the locals to outfit it with carriage and train. Over time, the gun is used in battle with ever-increasing success. It falls under the control of a series of guerrilla leaders; each achieves strong leadership through his connection to the gun, and each is eventually killed in some way (captured and executed, killed in battle, killed by rival leaders), until the gun finally comes under the control of the 18-year-old Jorge, who emerges as an untrained but naturally gifted leader and tactician. The exploits of the Spanish irregulars under Jorge eventually lead to the diversion of a large body of French troops from their fight against the Peninsular allies under the Duke of Wellington and thus help win the war.

The book vividly portrays the violence of combat and the brutality displayed by both sides in the Peninsular War.

The Last Encounter

"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".

The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck

The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck (Little Brown, 1959), also published as Hunting the Bismark (Michael Joseph, 1959), 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.

The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck tells the story of the breakout of the German battleship Bismarck into the Atlantic as a major threat to the convoys that sustained Britain in the early days of World War II and the Royal Navy's desperate pursuit and destruction of the Bismarck. A movie based on Forester's book, Sink the Bismarck! was released by Twentieth Century-Fox in 1960, with the book reprinted in paperback under the title Sink the Bismarck! (Bantam, 1959) as a promotional tie-in.

The Ship (novel)

The Ship is a novel written by British author C. S. Forester set in the Mediterranean during World War II, and first published in May 1943. It follows the life of a Royal Navy light cruiser for a single action, including a detailed analysis of many of the men on board and the contribution they made.

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