The Bolitho novels
The Bolitho novels are a series of nautical war novels written by Douglas Reeman (using the pseudonym Alexander Kent). 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 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. 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.
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.
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
|Title||Publication date||ISBN||Internal chronology||Notes|
|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||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
|Title||Publication date||ISBN||Volumes included||Notes|
|Midshipman Bolitho||ISBN 0-09-986350-2||
|Captain Richard Bolitho, RN||1978||ISBN 978-0-09-134130-5||
|The Bolitho Omnibus||1991||ISBN 0-09-175118-7||
|The Complete Midshipman Bolitho||2006||ISBN 978-1-59013-127-5||
Ships in which Bolitho serves
|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
|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|
|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|
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
|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|
- "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!"
- The name of this book is derived from Heart of Oak, official march of the Royal Navy