The Bolitho novels

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The Bolitho novels are a series of nautical war novels written by Douglas Reeman (using the pseudonym Alexander Kent).[1] They focus on the military careers of Richard Bolitho and Adam Bolitho in the Royal Navy, from the time of the American Revolution past the Napoleonic Era.

Richard Bolitho[edit]

Richard Bolitho is a fictional Royal Navy officer who is the main character in a series of novels written by Douglas Reeman (using the pseudonym Alexander Kent). Bolitho was born in 1756 in Falmouth, Cornwall, in the United Kingdom, the second son of a prestigious naval family. He joined the navy in 1768. He served in the wars against France and the United States. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1774, captain in 1782, and admiral in 1812. He died in action against the French in 1815. He played a significant role in driving the Americans back to Brooklyn Heights in 1776, helping to secure a decisive British victory in the largest battle of the entire American Revolution.

The name Bolitho is a common Cornish surname, but Reeman says that he borrowed the name Richard Bolitho from a real person, "a distinguished old chap" he had met in the Channel Islands when he sailed his boat there.[citation needed] Reeman also states that the real Richard Bolitho was the brother of the Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall.

Among his fellow officers, Bolitho was known for his tactical ingenuity, his daring, and his disregard of both convention and political expediency. He rose to high rank—despite the opposition of less competent men—because of his ability to win crucial victories against seemingly impossible odds. Among the men of the fleet, Bolitho was known as a demanding but scrupulously fair and humane captain. The men sometimes referred to him, though never to his face, as "Equality Dick." His reputation as a paragon of decency in a brutal world created a fierce sense of loyalty among those who had served under him.

Officers and men who served under Bolitho frequently chose, when given the chance, to do so again. Ships in the squadrons he commanded as a senior officer were frequently commanded by men who had served as his lieutenants when he was a captain. His most lasting relationships were with Thomas Herrick—a fellow officer and his oldest friend—and John Allday, a former Cornish shepherd who became Bolitho's coxswain and de facto bodyguard.

Bolitho had a number of romances. One of the first was Viola Raymond, the wife of an English diplomat. She died while Bolitho and a small number of his crew were stranded in a boat in the tropics, but it was her courage and sacrifice that rallied the crew. Bolitho married twice. His first wife, Cheney Seton, died in a carriage accident. His relationship with the second, Belinda, the mother of his child Elizabeth, deteriorated when it became clear that she was nothing like the person he thought he married and was a very selfish individual. Estranged from her and his daughter, he carried on an increasingly public affair with Lady Catherine Somervell, who was his wife in all but name until his death.

Douglas Reeman uses some real locations as settings for his stories. The fictitious Bolitho ancestral home near Falmouth was inspired by a house which Reeman saw and photographed in the 1960s at Philleigh near the King Harry Ferry in Cornwall. In reality, the house is not near Falmouth at all, so Reeman "relocated" it for his novels. However, the Church of King Charles the Martyr, which occurs in the books, really does exist in Falmouth.[2]

Reeman's own Royal Navy career and lifelong interest in sailing inform his seafaring novels. He saw active service with the Royal Navy during the Second World War, serving in the North Sea, Arctic, Atlantic and Mediterranean campaigns. Starting as a midshipman in destroyers he later transferred to motor torpedo boats, where he was twice mentioned in dispatches.[citation needed]

Adam Bolitho[edit]

Adam Bolitho is a fictional Royal Navy officer who is the main character in a series of novels written by Douglas Reeman (using the pseudonym Alexander Kent), succeeding the previous main character Richard Bolitho.

In Enemy in Sight, Richard Bolitho is joined by his nephew Adam Pascoe, who is later renamed Adam Bolitho when he becomes Richard's heir. Adam, the only son of Richard's disgraced older brother Hugh, was born in 1780 in Penzance, Cornwall, shortly after his father joined the revolution in America. Having been sent to Richard at the age of 14 by his dying mother, he joined the Royal Navy, rising through the ranks to establish himself as a daring and resourceful frigate captain, as his uncle had once done.

Adam's role in the series steadily increases as Richard ages and achieves high rank. After Richard's death, he becomes the principal character in the series.

Books in the Series[edit]

Novels of the series
Title Publication date ISBN Internal chronology
Richard Bolitho, Midshipman 1975 ISBN 0-399-61004-9 1772
Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger 1978 ISBN 0-399-20652-3 1773
Band of Brothers 2006 ISBN 0-434-01010-3 1774
Stand into Danger 1980 ISBN 0-09-925380-1 1774
In Gallant Company 1977 ISBN 0-09-916970-3 1777
Sloop of War 1972 ISBN 0-09-908820-7 1778
To Glory We Steer[3] 1968 ISBN 978-0-09-952786-2 1782
Command a King's Ship 1973 ISBN 978-0-09-954985-7 1784
Passage To Mutiny 1976 ISBN 978-0-09-126330-0 1789
With All Despatch 1988 ISBN 978-0-09-949388-4 1792
Form Line of Battle 1969 ISBN 978-0-09-908850-9 1793
Enemy in Sight! 1970 ISBN 0-09-905520-1 1794
Flag Captain 1971 ISBN 0-09-907180-0 1797
Signal – Close Action! 1974 ISBN 0-09-912940-X 1798
The Inshore Squadron 1978 ISBN 0-09-134580-4 1800
A Tradition of Victory 1981 ISBN 978-0-09-949767-7 1801
Success to the Brave 1983 ISBN 0-09-936370-4 1802
Colours Aloft! 1986 ISBN 978-0-09-954339-8 1803
Honour This Day 1987 ISBN 978-0-09-954341-1 1804
The Only Victor 1990 ISBN 0-330-31840-3 1806
Beyond The Reef 1992 ISBN 0-330-31957-4 1808
The Darkening Sea 1993 ISBN 0-330-32917-0 1809
For My Country's Freedom 1995 ISBN 0-330-34474-9 1811
Cross of St. George 1996 ISBN 978-0-09-949773-8 1813
Sword of Honour 1998 ISBN 0-09-942168-2 1814
Second to None 1999 ISBN 0-09-928059-0 1815
Relentless Pursuit 2001 ISBN 978-0-434-00884-1 1815
Man of War 2003 ISBN 978-0-434-01008-0 1817
Heart of Oak 2007 ISBN 978-0-434-01351-7 1818
In the King's Name 2011 ISBN 978-1-84605-543-0 1819

There were also some omnibus editions which collected several books from the series into one volume

Anthologies of the series
Title Publication date ISBN Volumes included
Midshipman Bolitho ISBN 0-09-986350-2
  • Richard Bolitho, Midshipman
  • Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger'
Captain Richard Bolitho, RN 1978 ISBN 978-0-09-134130-5
  • Sloop of War
  • To Glory We Steer
  • Command a King's Ship
Bolitho
  • Colours Aloft
  • Honour This Day
  • The Only Victor
The Bolitho Omnibus 1991 ISBN 0-09-175118-7
  • Stand into Danger
  • In Gallant Company
  • Sloop of War
Bolitho 1993 ISBN 0-434-00024-8
  • With All Despatch
  • Honour This Day
  • The Only Victor
The Complete Midshipman Bolitho 2006 ISBN 978-1-59013-127-5
  • Richard Bolitho, Midshipman
  • Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger'
  • Band of Brothers

Ships in which Bolitho serves[edit]

Ships served in by Richard Bolitho
Book Ship Guns Class Captain Rank Year
HMS Manxman 80 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Sir Henry Langford Midshipman 1768–1772
Richard Bolitho, Midshipman HMS Gorgon 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Beves Conway Midshipman 1772
Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger' HM Cutter Avenger 10 – 6 lb guns Cutter Lieutenant Hugh Bolitho Midshipman 1773
Band of Brothers HM Schooner Hotspur 14 Armed schooner Lieutenant Montagu Verling Midshipman 1774
Stand into Danger HMS Destiny 28 Frigate Captain Henry Dumaresq Lieutenant 1774
In Gallant Company HMS Trojan 80 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Gilbert Pears Lieutenant 1777
Sloop of War HM Sloop Sparrow 18 Sloop-of-war Commander Richard Bolitho Commander, junior captain 1778–1781
To Glory We Steer HMS Phalarope 32 Frigate Captain Richard Bolitho Post captain 1782
Command a King's Ship HMS Undine 32 Frigate Captain Richard Bolitho Post captain 1784
Passage To Mutiny HMS Tempest 36 Frigate Captain Richard Bolitho Post captain 1789
With All Dispatch HM Cutter Telemachus 12 Cutter Lieutenant Jonas Paice Captain-in-chief 1792
With All Dispatch HM Cutter Snapdragon 12 Cutter Lieutenant Hector Vatass Captain-in-chief 1792
With All Dispatch HM Cutter Wakeful 12 Cutter Lieutenant Charles Queely Captain-in-chief 1792
Form Line of Battle!
Enemy in Sight!
HMS Hyperion 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Richard Bolitho Post captain 1793
The Flag Captain HMS Euryalus 100 First-rate ship of the line Captain Richard Bolitho Post captain 1797
Signal – Close Action! HMS Lysander 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Thomas Herrick Commodore 1798
The Inshore Squadron
A Tradition of Victory
HMS Benbow 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Thomas Herrick Rear-admiral 1800–1801
Success to the Brave HMS Achates 64 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Valentine Keen Vice-admiral 1802
Colours Aloft! HMS Argonaute 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Valentine Keen Vice-admiral 1803
Honour This Day HMS Hyperion 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain Edmund Haven
Captain Valentine Keen
Vice-admiral 1804–1805
The Only Victor HMS Truculent 36 Frigate Captain Daniel Poland Vice-admiral 1806
The Only Victor
Beyond The Reef
HMS Black Prince 94 Second-rate ship of the line Captain Valentine Keen Vice-admiral 1806–1809
The Darkening Sea HMS Valkyrie 42 Frigate Captain Aaron Trevenen Vice-admiral 1809–1810
For My Country's Freedom
Cross of St George
HMS Indomitable 44 Razee Captain James Tyacke Admiral 1811–1813
Sword of Honour HMS Frobisher 74 Third-rate ship of the line Captain James Tyacke Admiral 1814
Ships served in by Adam Bolitho
Book Ship Guns Class Captain Rank Year
Enemy in Sight! HMS Hyperion 74 Third-rate ship of the line Richard Bolitho Midshipman 1794
HMS Impulsive 64 Third-rate ship of the line Thomas Herrick Midshipman 1795–1797
Signal -Close Action! HMS Lysander 74 Third-rate ship of the line Richard Bolitho (commodore) Lieutenant 1798–1800
A Tradition of Victory HMS Phalarope 32 Frigate Daniel Emes Lieutenant 1801
Colours Aloft!
Honour This Day
HMS Firefly 14 Brig Adam Bolitho Commander/captain 1803–1805
The Only Victor
Beyond the Reef
The Darkening Sea
For My Country's Freedom
HMS Anemone 38 Frigate Adam Bolitho Captain 1806–1812
Cross of St George
Sword of Honour
HMS Valkyrie 42 Frigate Adam Bolitho Flag captain 1813–1814
Second to None
Relentless Pursuit
HMS Unrivalled 46 Frigate Adam Bolitho Captain 1815
Man of War HMS Athena 74 Third-rate ship of the line Adam Bolitho Flag captain 1817
Heart of Oak
In The King's Name
HMS Onward 38 Frigate Adam Bolitho Captain 1818–1819


References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.douglasreeman.com/About%20the%20Author/default%20-%20AbouttheAuthor.html
  2. ^ "Falmouth Parish Church;The Church of King Charles the Martyr;A Short Tour of the Church". Falmouth Parrish Church, Falmouth, Cornwall, England. Archived from the original on 13 March 2011. Retrieved 14 March 2011. "The foundation stone for the Church was laid in August 1662 and it was consecrated in 1665, so in comparison with many other Cornish churches the Church of King Charles the Martyr is practically new!" 
  3. ^ The name of this book is derived from Heart of Oak, official march of the Royal Navy

See also[edit]