Hornblower and the Hotspur

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Hornblower and the Hotspur
First edition
AuthorC. S. Forester
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesHoratio Hornblower
GenreHistorical novel
PublisherMichael Joseph
Publication date
Media typeHardcover & paperback
Pages302 pp
Preceded byLieutenant Hornblower (1952) 
Followed byHornblower and the Crisis

Hornblower and the Hotspur (published 1962) is a Horatio Hornblower novel written by C. S. Forester.

It is the third book in the series chronologically, but the tenth by order of publication, and serves as the basis for one of the episodes of the Hornblower series of television films.

Plot summary[edit]

With the Peace of Amiens under strain and war with France under Napoleon Bonaparte imminent in May 1803, Hornblower is promoted from Lieutenant to Commander and appointed to command the sloop HMS Hotspur. While readying for sea, he hastily marries Maria, the daughter of his landlady, at the Garrison Church, Portsmouth. However, Hornblower marries her not out of love but out of pity, and is forced to exercise his acting ability to make her believe that he genuinely loves her.

Hotspur reconnoiters the approaches to the French naval base of Brest, and narrowly avoids capture when war is declared. Once the British fleet blockades Brest, Hornblower's restlessness and perfectionism prompts him to lead attacks and landing parties.

In spite of gaining a good reputation, Hornblower makes no financial profit from his activities. When Admiral William Cornwallis tries to put him in a position where he can make easy prize money by capturing a large shipment of Spanish gold, he instead takes on a stronger enemy frigate sent to warn the convoy and keeps it from accomplishing its mission. Eventually, by superior seamanship and skill, he drives it away. Hornblower rationalises that this is poetic justice, after he had earlier connived to facilitate the escape of his steward, who was facing hanging for striking a superior officer (a punishment Hornblower could not abide). It later transpires that the prize ships were claimed by the Admiralty (Droits of Admiralty), as war had not been officially declared against Spain at the time of the capture, so Hornblower would not have profited in any case.

Hornblower has a son, also named Horatio, and is recommended for promotion to Post Captain as one of the final acts of a retiring Admiral Cornwallis, a real figure outside of the Hornblower novels.


  • Forester, C. S. (1962). Hornblower and the Hotspur (1998 ed.). Back Bay Books. ISBN 0-316-29046-7.

Historical facts[edit]

  • The (historical) USS Constitution resupplied at Cadiz and took on extra crew on 24 October 1803.[1] The (fictional) Hornblower's steward escapes to the Constitution in Cadiz harbour, though the novel places this just a few days before the action of 5 October 1804.


  1. ^ Karl Heinz Marquardt (2005). The 44-gun Frigate USS Constitution: "Old Ironsides". Naval Institute Press. p. 11. ISBN 9781591142508. Retrieved 2014-06-10.

External links[edit]