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Patrick O'Brian Biography

(1914–2004), Master and Commander, Post Captain, H M Surprise, The Mauritius Command, Desolation Island

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: New from Tartary to Frank O'connor

British historical novelist and biographer, born in Ireland; he is best known for his series of novels set during the Napoleonic wars, which chronicle the exploits of Captain ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey, a courageous and brilliant naval officer, and his friend and colleague, Stephen Maturin. The first of these books, Master and Commander (1970), describes the initial meeting between the two characters in Minorca in 1800; it was followed by Post Captain (1972), H M Surprise (1973), The Mauritius Command (1977), Desolation Island (1978), The Fortune of War (1979), The Surgeon's Mate (1980), The Ionian Mission (1981), Treason's Harbour (1982), The Far Side of the World (1984), The Reverse of the Medal (1986), The Letter of Marque (1988), The Thirteen Gun Salute (1989), The Nutmeg of Consolation (1991), Clarissa Oakes (1992), The Wine-Dark Sea (1993), and The Commodore (1994). These novels display a profound knowledge of naval history and of the natural world as well as a certain psychological depth in their portrayal of the central characters. Each novel deals with a different aspect of the naval campaign. Their settings range from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and from Nova Scotia to the penal colonies of Australia. O'Brian's non-fiction includes biographies of Picasso (1976) and of the eighteenth-century naturalist, Sir Joseph Banks (1987).

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