Captains Courageous

Captains Courageous is an 1897 novel, by Rudyard Kipling, that follows the adventures of fifteen-year-old Harvey Cheyne Jr., the spoiled son of a railroad tycoon, after he is saved from drowning by a Portuguese fisherman in the north Atlantic. The novel originally appeared as a serialisation in McClure's, beginning with the November 1896 edition. In 1900, in his essay "What We Can Expect of the American Boy," Teddy Roosevelt extolled the book and praised Kipling for describing "in the liveliest way just what a boy should be and do."[2]

The book's title comes from the ballad Mary Ambree, which starts, "When captains courageous, whom death could not daunt". Kipling had previously used the same title for an article on businessmen as the new adventurers, published in The Times of 23 November 1892.[3]

Captains Courageous
First edition cover
AuthorRudyard Kipling
Original title"Captains Courageous": A Story of the Grand Banks
IllustratorIsaac Walton Taber
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreAdventure, Nautical, Juvenile
Media typePrint (Hardcover)
Pages245 (Hardcover, First edition)[1]
TextCaptains Courageous at Wikisource


Rudyard Kiping Captains Courageous McClure's Magazine.jpeg
Cover of the November 1896 edition of McClure's, which began the serialisation of the novel.
We're Here
The ship We're Here

Protagonist Harvey Cheyne, Jr., is the son of a wealthy railroad magnate and his wife, in San Diego, California. Washed overboard from a transatlantic steamship and rescued by fishermen off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, Harvey can neither persuade them to take him quickly to port, nor convince them of his wealth. Harvey accuses the captain, Disko Troop, of taking his money (which is later revealed to be on the deck from which Harvey fell). Disko Troop, captain of the We're Here, bloodies his nose but takes him in as a boy on the crew until they return to port. Harvey comes to accept his situation.

Through a series of trials and adventures, Harvey, with the help of the captain's son Dan Troop, becomes acclimated to the fishing lifestyle, and even skillful. Great stories of the cod fishery with references to New England whaling and 19th-century steam and sailing are intertwined with the We're Here's adventures during a season at sea. Eventually, the schooner returns to port and Harvey wires his parents, who immediately hasten to Boston, Massachusetts, and thence to the fishing town of Gloucester to recover him. There, Harvey's mother rewards the seaman Manuel, who initially rescued her son; Harvey's father hires Dan to work on his prestigious tea clipper fleet; and Harvey goes to Stanford to prepare for taking over his father's shipping lines.


The book was written during Kipling's time living in Brattleboro, Vermont. Kipling recalled in his autobiography:

Now our Dr. [James] Conland had served in [the Gloucester] fleet when he was young. One thing leading to another, as happens in this world, I embarked on a little book which was called Captains Courageous. My part was the writing; his the details. This book took us (he rejoicing to escape from the dread respectability of our little town) to the shore-front, and the old T-wharf of Boston Harbour, and to queer meals in sailors’ eating-houses, where he renewed his youth among ex-shipmates or their kin. We assisted hospitable tug-masters to help haul three- and four-stick schooners of Pocahontas coal all round the harbour; we boarded every craft that looked as if she might be useful, and we delighted ourselves to the limit of delight. ... Old tales, too, he dug up, and the lists of dead and gone schooners whom he had loved, and I revelled in profligate abundance of detail—not necessarily for publication but for the joy of it. ...I wanted to see if I could catch and hold something of a rather beautiful localised American atmosphere that was already beginning to fade. Thanks to Conland I came near this.[4]

Kipling also recalled:

When, at the end of my tale, I desired that some of my characters should pass from San Francisco [sic] to New York in record time, and wrote to a railway magnate of my acquaintance asking what he himself would do, that most excellent man sent a fully worked-out time-table, with watering halts, changes of engine, mileage, track conditions and climates, so that a corpse could not have gone wrong in the schedule.[4]

The resulting account, in Chapter 9, of the Cheynes' journey from San Diego to Boston, is a classic of railway literature. The couple travel in the Cheynes' private rail car, the "Constance", and are taken from San Diego to Chicago as a special train, hauled by sixteen locomotives in succession. It takes precedence over 177 other trains. "Two and one-half minutes would be allowed for changing engines; three for watering and two for coaling". The "Constance" is attached to the scheduled express "New York Limited" to Buffalo, New York and then transferred to the New York Central for the trip across the state to Albany. Switched to the Boston and Albany Railroad, the Cheynes complete the trip to Boston in their private car, with the entire cross-country run taking 87 hours 35 minutes.

Kipling also recalled:

My characters arrived triumphantly; and, then, a real live railway magnate was so moved after reading the book that he called out his engines and called out his men, hitched up his own private car, and set himself to beat my time on paper over the identical route, and succeeded.[4]

Disko Troop claims to receive his given name for his birth on board his father's ship near Disko Island on the west coast of Greenland. His crewman 'Long Jack' once calls him "Discobolus".

Film, TV, theatrical, or other adaptations

Captains Courageous has been adapted for film three times:

Musical theatre:

Other adaptations:

Derivative usages

  • "Captain Courageous" in the singular is sometimes used as praise for a leader of a group or team, e.g. [1] [2] [3].
  • The commentator David Lloyd frequently referred to Kevin Pietersen as "Captain Courageous" during his period as captain of the England cricket team.
  • In the movie Captain Ron (1992), Martin Short's character derisively refers to the leader as "Captains Courageous".
  • "Captains Outrageous" is the title of a 1979 episode of the American television series M*A*S*H and a 2001 crime/suspense novel by Joe R. Lansdale.
  • "Captains Courageous" is a track on the Levellers album Mouth to Mouth


  1. ^ "Captains Courageous". Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  2. ^ Roosevelt, Theodore (May 1900). "What We Can Expect of the American Boy". St. Nicholas. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  3. ^ Captains Courageous title,
  4. ^ a b c Rudyard Kipling, Something of Myself: for my friends known and unknown, London: MacMillan and Co., 1951 (first published 1937). p. 129-131

External links

10th Academy Awards

The 10th Academy Awards were originally scheduled for March 3, 1938, but due to the Los Angeles flood of 1938 were held on March 10, 1938, at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles, California. It was hosted by Bob Burns.

1937 New York Film Critics Circle Awards

The 3rd New York Film Critics Circle Awards, announced on 30 December 1937, presented January 9, 1938, honored the best filmmaking of 1937.

Captains Courageous (1937 film)

Captains Courageous is a 1937 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer adventure film. Based on the novel by Rudyard Kipling, "Captains Courageous: A Story of the Grand Banks", it had its world premiere at the Carthay Circle Theatre in Los Angeles. The movie was produced by Louis D. Lighton and directed by Victor Fleming. Filmed in black-and-white, Captains Courageous was advertised by MGM as a coming-of-age classic with exciting action sequences.

Backgrounds and exteriors for the film were shot on location in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland and Shelburne, Nova Scotia in Canada, and Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Captains Courageous (1977 film)

Captains Courageous is a 1977 American TV film based on the novel Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling. It was produced by Norman Rosemont who made a number of TV movies based on classic novels.It was shot off the coast of Maine with a budget of $1.5 million.Rosemont had to pay $25,000 to the Kipling estate. Although the work was in the public domain in the US it was still in copyright in other territories.

Captains Courageous (disambiguation)

Captains Courageous is a novel by Rudyard Kipling.

Captains Courageous may also refer to various film adaptations of the novel:

Captains Courageous (1937 film), starring Spencer Tracy and Freddie Bartholomew

Captains Courageous (1977 film), featuring Karl Malden and Johnny Doran

Captains Courageous (1996 film), starring Robert Urich and Kenny Vadas


Disko may refer to:

Disko Island or Qeqertarsuaq, in Baffin Bay, Greenland

Disko, Indiana, a small town in the United States

The character Disko Troop in the book Captains Courageous

Disk'O, a type of amusement ride manufactured by Zamperla

Elmo Veron

Elmo Veron (September 17, 1903 – November 7, 1990) was an American film and television editor. He worked on nearly 50 different TV shows and films during his career. Which included some of Mickey Rooney's films from the early 1940s.

He was nominated at the 10th Academy Awards in the category of Best Film Editing for his work on the film Captains Courageous.

Freddie Bartholomew

Frederick Cecil Bartholomew (March 28, 1924 – January 23, 1992), known for his acting work as Freddie Bartholomew, was an English-American child actor. One of the most famous child actors of all time, he became very popular in 1930s Hollywood films. His most famous starring roles are in Captains Courageous (1937) and Little Lord Fauntleroy (1936).

Bartholomew was born in London, and for the title role of MGM's David Copperfield (1935) he emigrated to the United States at the age of 10 in 1934, living there the rest of his life. He became an American citizen in 1943 following World War II military service.Despite his great success and acclaim following David Copperfield, Bartholomew's childhood film stardom was marred by nearly constant legal battles and payouts which eventually took a huge toll on both his finances and his career. In adulthood, after World War II service, his film career dwindled rapidly, and he switched from performing to directing and producing in the medium of television.

Isaac Walton Taber

Isaac Walton Taber (circa 1857 – February 12, 1933) was an American illustrator active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He was also known as "Walton Taber." As his work was often credited to "I. W. Taber," he has been confused with the photographer Isaiah West Taber (1830-1912).

Born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Tabor was the third of four sons born to merchant Isaac W. Taber and Lydia (née Hart) Taber. He studied at the Cooper Union Art School and exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy (1880-1881; 1893). He was known for his pen and ink work drawn from photographs; he is most well known for the 250 illustrations he created for the four-volume Battles and Leaders of the Civil War. His illustrations were published in popular magazines including St. Nicholas and Century. He illustrated Rudyard Kipling's Captains Courageous, Frank T. Bullen's Cruise of the Cachalot, and the 1928 edition of Herman Melville's Moby Dick. Taber died in New York City on February 12, 1933.

Johnny Doran (actor)

Johnny Doran (born John Alan Doran, May 25, 1962) is an American former child actor. Reportedly discovered by a talent scout while performing George M. Cohan songs with his younger brother at P. J. Clarke's saloon in New York City, Doran began his acting career in the theatre, appearing as John Henry West in the off-Broadway production of F. Jasmine Addams in 1971, as Bobby Collins in the Broadway production of Children! Children! in 1972 and as Hughie Cooper in the national touring production of Finishing Touches from 1973–1974.After establishing himself in the New York theatre, Doran transitioned to work in feature films, appearing in principal roles in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and Treasure of Matecumbe, as well as television films, including the ABC Afterschool Special, "The Pinballs", the ABC made-for-television movie Captains Courageous and the NBC made-for-television movie Rainbow.

In addition to his film roles, Doran also guest-starred on various episodic television series of the 1970s, including Isis, The Fantastic Journey and Little House on the Prairie, as well as co-starring as Tim on the first-run syndicated series Salty and as Mark Mulligan on the NBC comedy-drama series Mulligan's Stew.

Johnny is currently a prominent attorney practicing in Phoenix, Arizona.

Kenny Vadas

Ken "Kenny" Vadas is a Canadian actor.

In his early career Vadas acted in several commercials; he was a regular on the television series "Eric's World" and had guest roles on television series such as Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Goosebumps, and "The Adventures of Sinbad" which filmed in South Africa.

He acted in several made-for-television movies and is famous for his role as the E.L.F.S. Leader in the Disney blockbuster The Santa Clause with Tim Allen in which he saved Santa and his son Charlie and is quoted frequently for his line in the movie; "We're your worst nightmare, Elves with attitude".

Vadas also played the lead role of Harvey Cheyne in the remake of Captains Courageous starring Robert Urich, receiving a Family Film Award nomination in Hollywood and winning a Young Artist Award also in Hollywood.

Ken received his third Hollywood nomination for his role as Prince Cosimo in the HBO television movie "Galileo: On The Shoulders of Giants" that filmed on location in Venice, Italy in which he co-starred with Michael Moriarty.

List of awards and nominations received by Spencer Tracy

Spencer Tracy (1900–1967) was an American actor. He appeared in 75 films from 1930 to 1967, during which time he received several awards and nominations from the industry. He was nominated for nine Academy Awards for Best Actor, a record he holds with Laurence Olivier, and won two, for Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938). He was the first person to win consecutive awards in the Best Actor category, and this would not be matched until Tom Hanks received consecutive Best Actor awards in 1993 and 1994. Tracy received five British Academy Film Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role and four Golden Globe Award nominations for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama. He won each of those awards once. He was also the recipient of the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and the National Board of Review Award for Best Actor.

Mary Ambree

Mary Ambree (fl. 1584) was an English army captain who participated in the liberation of the Belgian city Ghent during the war against Spain. She is frequently mentioned in ballads.In 1584 the Spanish captured Ghent, and Captain Mary Ambree, along with several other Dutch and English volunteers, fought to liberate the city. It was said that she was avenging her lover, a sergeant major who died during the siege.

She was a popular subject of ballads during the 17th-century from 1620s onwards. Ambree was the subject of the English ballad that provided the title for Rudyard Kipling's well-known novel, Captains Courageous. The ballad was preserved by Thomas Percy in the Pepys Collection.A female French Legionnaire in the book Sowing Glory by P.C. Wren was referred to by the pseudonym of Mary Ambree in order to protect her identity.

Roger Gray (actor)

Roger Gray (May 26, 1881 – January 20, 1959) was an American character who was active in the early years of the talking picture era. Born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1881, he began acting later in life, his first role being featured part in 1930's Hit the Deck. Over his 14-year career he would have small or featured roles in over 75 films, including such classics as The Merry Widow (1934), Les Misérables (1935), Captains Courageous (1937), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939), and 1940's Road to Singapore. His final appearance would be in a small role in the 1943 film Redhead from Manhattan. Married and divorced twice, he died in a Los Angeles hospital, and his body was cremated in the crematorium of Hollywood Memorial Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever Cemetery).

Spencer Tracy

Spencer Bonaventure Tracy (April 5, 1900 – June 10, 1967) was an American actor, noted for his natural style and versatility. One of the major stars of Hollywood's Golden Age, Tracy won two Academy Awards for Best Actor from nine nominations, sharing the record for nominations in that category with Laurence Olivier.

Tracy first discovered his talent for acting while attending Ripon College, and he later received a scholarship for the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He spent seven years in the theatre, working in a succession of stock companies and intermittently on Broadway. Tracy's breakthrough came in 1930, when his lead performance in The Last Mile caught the attention of Hollywood. After a successful film debut in John Ford's Up the River starring Tracy and Humphrey Bogart, he was signed to a contract with Fox Film Corporation. His five years with Fox featured one acting tour de force after another that were usually ignored at the box office, and he remained largely unknown to audiences after 25 films, almost all of them starring Tracy as the leading man. None of them were hits although The Power and the Glory (1933) features arguably his most acclaimed performance in retrospect.

In 1935, Tracy joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, at the time Hollywood's most prestigious studio. His career flourished with a series of hit films, and in 1937 and 1938 he won consecutive Oscars for Captains Courageous and Boys Town. He made three smash hit films supporting Clark Gable, the studio's principal leading man, firmly fixing the notion of Gable and Tracy as a team in the public imagination. By the 1940s, Tracy was one of the studio's top stars. In 1942, he appeared with Katharine Hepburn in Woman of the Year, beginning another popular partnership that produced nine movies over 25 years. Tracy left MGM in 1955, and continued to work regularly as a freelance star, despite an increasing weariness as he aged. His personal life was troubled, with a lifelong struggle against severe alcoholism and guilt over his son's deafness. Tracy became estranged from his wife in the 1930s, but never divorced, conducting a long-term relationship with Katharine Hepburn in private. Towards the end of his life, Tracy worked almost exclusively for director Stanley Kramer. It was for Kramer that he made his last film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967, completed just 17 days before his death.

During his career, Tracy appeared in 75 films and developed a reputation among his peers as one of the screen's greatest actors. In 1999, the American Film Institute ranked Tracy as the 9th greatest male star of Classic Hollywood Cinema.

Troop (disambiguation)

Troop may refer to the following:

Troop, a small unit of cavalry or some police forces

Troop (band), an R&B group from Pasadena, California

Troops (film), an independent spoof of COPS and Star Wars

F Troop, a satirical American television sitcom

Scout troop, a unit of boy or girl scouts

"Support our troops," a popular slogan

Troop, a family name from Kipling's Captains Courageous

Troop, the collective noun for a group of apes, baboons, or lemurs

Troops, a collective term for soldiers

The Troop, a TV sitcom

TrOOP, true out-of-pocket expenses (Medicare Part D Coverage)

Troop (clothing brand), a 1980s hip hop clothing brand

Victor Fleming

Victor Lonzo Fleming (February 23, 1889 – January 6, 1949) was an American film director, cinematographer, and producer. His most popular films were The Wizard of Oz (1939), and Gone with the Wind (1939), for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director. Fleming has those same two films listed in the top 10 of the American Film Institute's 2007 AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies list.

Virgin Rocks

The Virgin Rocks are a series of rocky ridges just below the ocean surface on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. They rise to within 3.6 m of the surface and are a navigation hazard to oceangoing vessels in the North Atlantic.

The rocks were first reported by Jorge Reinel circa 1516 — 1522 and are noted as good fishing grounds in the era of the schooner fleet. It was used as a rendezvous point for the banking fleets. In June 1964 an expedition sponsored by the Government of Newfoundland, Memorial University of Newfoundland and the College of Fisheries explored the Virgin Rocks. A team of divers were sent down to mount a plaque on the ocean bottom in 19 m of water, the first time man had walked upon the surface of the Grand Banks.

An article in the Geological Society of America Bulletin lists their co-ordinates as 46° 25'N 50° 49'W, following an expedition by H.D. Lilly.The Virgin Rocks are referenced in Rudyard Kipling's novel, Captains Courageous. In chapter 8 they are described as follows:

"Next day several boats fished right above the cap of the Virgin; and Harvey, with them, looked down on the very weed of that lonely rock, which rises to within twenty feet of the surface. The cod were there in legions, marching solemnly over the leathery kelp..." It is also mentioned in the 1937 film of the same name and appears on the map.

William Stack

William Stack (March 5, 1882 – January 15, 1949) was an American actor who began his acting career in Great Britain. Over the course of his career he appeared in over 50 films in the U.S. and the U.K, including such notable films as Mary of Scotland, Captains Courageous, and Gone with the Wind.

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