Captain Marryat
Mr. Midshipman Easy
"If you please ma'am,it was a very little one" [says a nurse who is apologising for having had an illegitimate child] (Mr Midshipman Easy (1836))

Captain Frederick Marryat was a serviceman as his title implies - a naval captain indeed, who took to writing stories chiefly about the sea in the late 1820s with the novel The Naval Officer: or Scenes and Adventures in the Life of Frank Mildmay (1829). As with so many authors first works this was a partly autobiographical novel and was a serious tale of adventures occuring on the ocean waves. The book's success allowed Marryat to resign his commission the year after its publication, although presumably to make the reality of his naval vision more complete he kept his title on his books.

Marryat's most famous works came in the 1830s with Peter Simple (1834), Jacob Faithful (1834) and Mr Midshipman Easy (1836). These were all sea stories intended for an adult audience and the last of these in particular provided the author with considerable success and acclaim. Japhet in Search of a Father followed later in 1836, bucking the sea-yarn trend for the first time in its portrayal of the troublesome life of a foundling. Marryat, evidently searching within his soul for subject matter based elsewhere but the waves, improbably decided to write a book about an indestructible dog called Snarleyyow, in 1837. Inevitably, perhaps, he felt drawn back to the sea and wrote The Phantom Ship (1839) and Poor Jack (1840). These novels followed the 18th century-derived realist narrative form most prominent previously in the works of Tobias Smollett (see The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker.

Throughout his writing career Marryat travelled around the world variously in Europe, America and Canada, usually on holidays from his writing. Realising he needed a change of direction after Poor Jack, Marryat began to write stories intended for young boys in 1841 with Masterman Ready. He followed this with The Settlers in Canada (1844) and Children of the New Forest (1847) a year before his death, and his lasting fame has been guaranteed by the success of these books.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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