Talk:Master and Commander

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WikiProject Novels / Military fiction  (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
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What is the calendar date when the novel ends?

If we use Thomas Chochrane's capture of El Gamo as a guide, then Master and Commander must end some time after May 6th, 1801...

Jack witnesses the Battle of Algeciras Bay, so it would have to be after 12 July, 1801. Post Captain opens three days after the Treaty of Amiens (25 March 1802, so the novel opens on the 28th), so obviously before then. --Badger151 19:44, 20 July 2007 (UTC)


My edit summary overran. Its clear that Stephen is penniless for all practical purposes at the start of M&C. He can't afford food or lodging and owes money and has to get an advance on his pay. He may have resources elsewhere but not accessible. Dabbler 30 June 2005 19:30 (UTC)

I'll let it stand for now until I can re-read and figure out at what point he gained enough money to make the purchase he made in RotM. I was under the impression that he had quite a bit even before he inherited from his godfather. --SarekOfVulcan 30 June 2005 19:40 (UTC)
Nope, you were right, I was wrong. I'm currently in The Thirteen-Gun Salute, and he talks about his previous lack of money here.--SarekOfVulcan 19:11, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

I am just commenting about his state in Port Mahon at the beginning of M&C. Clearly by the end of M&C what with prize money and naval surgeon's pay and what have you, he is much more comfortably off. Dabbler 30 June 2005 21:21 (UTC)

re: Stephen Maturin and Charles Maturin[edit]

I do seem to remember reading somewhere that the character in M&C was named for the Irish author; however, I don't have a citation, and I don't have a problem with my edit being removed. --Tachikoma 19:07, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I have participated in a lot of speculation on O'Brian discussion groups and email lists over the years and it is an obvious supposition, but I have never yet seen a definitive citation from any O'Brian source. Dabbler 19:49, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

How Jack is able to get a larger spar for his mainsail[edit]

I'd like to comment on how Jack is able to acquire a larger main yard - through intentionally springing his old one and by trading his 12-lber cannon for the new yard, but "through trickery" doesn't really seem the right way to describe it. Anyone have thoughts? --Badger151 19:06, 20 July 2007 (UTC)

A thorough understanding of how to work naval bureaucracy is probably the best way of looking at it - and he doesn't so much trade the cannon for the spar as use their return to distract the hoarding chief of the dockyard from the fact that some of his stores are actually being issued... (talk) 10:52, 17 July 2014 (UTC)


Can someone fix the link at the right hand side of the page to the main Post Captain article? Ivankinsman (talk) 09:25, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Done Dabbler (talk) 11:14, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

first published in 1812[edit]

the main article says the novel was first published in 1812. Could somebody please fix that?

Thanks, —Preceding unsigned comment added by Johnjohnson68510 (talkcontribs) 17:09, 11 February 2009 (UTC)

needs cites to actual reviews, quotes, and discussion of them in Literary/reviews section[edit]

It is clear the people who wrote up this article love the book. What about reviewers in newspapers, magazines and books? The list of ? in Reviews is ripe for removal. The Kirkus review is not on line at its site. Is it online anywhere else, to be easily quoted? The claim of good reviews needs to be turned into a prose section, not a bullet list of incomplete citations. Any takers for the task? --Prairieplant (talk) 02:53, 6 March 2014 (UTC)

I rewrote the Literary section, deleting the Reviews subsection. All its cites are not from the original sources, but collected in Cunningham's book, but no page numbers are given from that book. Several of the reviews from Cunningham's book include comparisons to C S Forester, so those were grouped as the second paragraph and the list deleted. Some on the list had no words from them included, so they are gone. In the first paragraph, the reviews are mixed with the history of the publication in 1969 and the re-issues begun in the late 1980s and continuing to the end of the series, by W. W. Norton publishers in the US. Lacking Cunningham's book, I do not know if what is here reflects what he wrote. I am trusting that the person who quoted from Cunningham did those quotes accurately. In the first paragraph I added sources I have read myself, for the publication history, and the collection of accolades for Master and Commander at the W. W. Norton web site. I think this is better than what was there, but still needs work for style and accuracy of citations. --Prairieplant (talk) 00:15, 14 February 2015 (UTC)

Themes -- remove for lack of content?[edit]

The section title Themes has been flagged since 2008, a long time ago, and never improved. Is there any reason to keep it, for the little it adds? My own view of an improvement would be to copy the author's preface into this article, as it speaks to his sources more effectively than a reference to Cochrane's autiobiography. Other views? --05:23, 8 April 2014 (UTC) This was my comment, forgot to sign it! --Prairieplant (talk) 10:11, 11 May 2014 (UTC)

Working on the 21 articles, raise the quality[edit]

MichaelMaggs Yes, I think a project to improve all the articles about the books in this series is a worthwhile undertaking, including a fairly similar structure for all the articles. Going slowly suits me, too. I did look at the articles just now, to see they have mainly the same subject headings in each article, but not the same depth under those headings. (Plot summary, characters, ships, allusions or history, series chronology where applicable, publication history, references and for the early novels, External links to the mapping project) Publication History includes the W. W. Norton reissue story in some, but not all the articles. That is a task I might do. Plus a longer list of editions can be supplied. The Reviews / Literary Significance sections vary, depending on how many reviews can be found that address that novel specifically, either at time publication, re-issue, or later. Finding more reviews will be the basis to improve those sections, and possibly allow Theme sections to be written, based on those reviewers by a better writer than I am. I have been told that my habit of quoting such long sections of some reviews is not best practice; in this round of improvement, perhaps a better Reviews section will use shorter quotes (than the entire Kirkus Reviews paragraph, for a typical example you will see whenever Kirkus did a review that I could find).

I would love to see the Geoff Hunt covers added to the articles on the earlier novels (when they were not the First Edition cover), as Collins had him do the covers midway in the series including all previously published novels, and both Collins and Norton use Hunt's covers for all reissues. I think that would fit neatly in Publication History. This is one link that shows all the covers -- I do not know how to get them from another source to an article with proper fair use explanation. I would appreciate the skills of others for that task. Might use Reissue cover by Geoff Hunt or something similar as the caption, with wikilink on Geoff Hunt, artist.

You and I welcome other editors interested in this project. Any excuse to read these novels again, good enough for me. There is a discussion listing Good Articles on novels that might provide inspiration for what a good lead for a good article includes, and how to incorporate the reviews and analysis we do find in the articles, on the talk page for The Yellow Admiral. Talk:The_Yellow_Admiral#Length_of_reviews I have been trying to improve the leads in a spotty fashion, for The Yellow Admiral, The Thirteen Gun Salute, this article and maybe a few others where there are enough reviews. We need to keep in mind that the lead is a summary of what is in the article, so something must go in the article first, then be considered for the lead (also spelled lede by some). The very interesting question about this series to me is, are these books literature or merely genre novels? With better articles and better sources, we might approach that question now and then. --Prairieplant (talk) 18:59, 17 September 2015 (UTC)

Aubrey-Maturin novels - planned improvement project[edit]

This is a proposed informal project to improve and clean up the articles on the Aubrey-Maturin novels. The plan is to take the articles one by one, and to work through slowly but methodically. Anyone is welcome, of course.

Before we start, it would be useful to discuss generally what needs to be done and where we hope to end up. Here are my initial thoughts: feedback would be welcome. Once there's reasonable agreement on how to proceed, we can get started.

Proposed sections for all articles
  • Lead
  • Plot summary
  • Characters
  • Ships
  • O'Brian's sources
  • Other sections where needed (eg Adaptations, Series chronology)
  • Literary significance & criticism
  • Publication history
  • References
  • Bibliography
  • External links

General issues to be dealt with:

  • Make articles consistent in style and structure, so far as possible
  • Comply with MOS:NOVELS and WP:WAF
  • One paragraph of basic information (title, author, date, number in the series, set in Napoleonic Wars etc). Second paragraph, a few sentences on the highlights of the plot. Third paragraph, summary of the reviews/reception.
  • Mention the major turning points of the stories, but accept that the plots are far too complex to provide anything like a full summary. Include external viewpoint, including reference to other novels if needed.
Plot summary
  • Re-write as needed to comply with MOS:PLOT and convert to out-of-universe style; try to follow WP:PLOTSUM
  • Improve flow
  • Simplify and shorten where possible (there is already too much trivial detail, but no need to be too radical)
  • Ensure all major plot points are covered
  • Link to previous books as needed for readability
  • Don't assume reader knows previous plot details
  • Don't link to real persons or ships in this section
  • Upload and add Hunt's covers where missing
  • This section is already far too long, and mixes names with additional points of the plot not mentioned in the summary. Keep at least the major characters plus perhaps some brief information, but remove all plot points.
  • Include links to real persons where they exist
  • Include links to real ships where they exist.
O'Brian's sources
  • This new section should cover O'Brian's main historical and literary sources. It should replace the dreadful 'Allusions' sections, which are often simply non-encyclopedic crufty lists of things appearing in the novels (the book mentions a 'chimpanzee' and an 'asp', etc). Lists of animals, medicine, music, literature are largely indiscriminate collections of information, and fail WP:INDISCRIMINATE. Most 'allusions and references' are also WP:OR. These articles are not the place to explain some archaic word, situation or process (better to use wikilinks to the corresponding historical article).
Literary significance & criticism
  • Need to summarise quotations from others. The long quotes in some articles are copyright infringements.
  • Add more review opinions, especially of original publications.
  • Select quotes to help the reader understand the novel as a work, not just "yet another wonderful book by O'Brian".
  • Delete. Avoid this section where possible. It only encourages editors to add things they have spotted in the novels based on original research.

@Prairieplant, Sadads and others who may be interested. Does this seem reasonable? If so, I'll make a start on this article, as the first in the series. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:03, 11 October 2015 (UTC)

@MichaelMaggs: I totally support all of the changes, especially the rewriting of the cruft-iness in the allusions sections. Also, I want to +1 the concerns about the Copyvio for the reviews. Unfortunately, I don't have the time to help, but would love to endorse this work. Sadads (talk) 16:00, 11 October 2015 (UTC)
Yes this seems reasonable. I would comment on the lead, which Sadads has been trying to teach me how to improve. One paragraph of the basic information (title, author, number in the series, set in Napoleonic Wars). Second paragraph, a few sentences on the highlights of the plot of the novel. Third paragraph, summary of the reviews/reception of the novel based on what is in the article. The rules for the plot summaries look good. I am not sure exactly what is meant by the external viewpoint, but I am sure that will be clear when I see a plot summary revised to include more of that. Very organized, good check list. I wish Sadads could join in; maybe you will take a look now & then to see if things are getting better? --Prairieplant (talk) 00:21, 12 October 2015 (UTC)
Thanks, that's helpful. Have added the suggestions for the lead to the checklist above. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 03:30, 12 October 2015 (UTC)

Tasks checklist[edit]

Ok, ready at long last to make a start on these articles. I've created a checklist for interested editors to work from, based on the discussion above. Starting now; intending to work slowly through the novels in turn. All contributions welcome. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 14:42, 4 February 2017 (UTC)

Discussion of Task List and related editing[edit]

MichaelMaggs, well done! Will you add the blue box to the talk page of the article on each novel?
I raise one point, the Bibliography. Just one name in that list is included in the References. I propose that the other, unused books, be titled Further reading, and Cunningham deleted from that list, as the book is referenced in the article. Bibliography, at least in the articles I have read on Wikipedia, is a list of sources used for the in line citations, and needed when using one of those two-step formats for references, a short reference in line (author, year, page or like that) and then the full citation in the Bibliography. When it is a really long reference list, the harvnb format links the short reference to the matching full citation, by a click by the reader of the article. By the way, I do not suggest that system of short ref, full citation for this article. As to the Further reading, is that a timely change? If agreeable, this is a task I can do, complete with latest Wikipedia style of last= first= for the author names. If you put it in the blue box, I can check it done, too
And another point -- If all the cool references to jokes or phrases in other languages, the dishes they ate and their unfamiliar names, the plants and animals sighted, are removed from this article, can there be links added to External links, besides the mapping project site? Perhaps the Gunroom web site ( or one of its tabs), and the Anthony Gary Brown guide to the perplexed (, which has translations or explanations for foreign language terms? Maybe the books not cited have some of that in them (I do not have those books on hand) and could be used to add a good and cited paragraph to O'Brian's sources. Brown's 2006 book is included in the references now; without seeing that book, I think his guide to the perplexed is in that book and on line. I hate suggesting things that I cannot write myself, lacking those books. So just ideas to consider. I could add External links, I put them here already. --Prairieplant (talk) 19:05, 4 February 2017 (UTC)
Many thanks for the feedback. Rather than adding the checklist to all of the articles straight away, I was planning to take the articles one by one, and to move on to the second book only once this one has been ‘done’. That should allow us to gain confidence in the checklist, and perhaps to improve it with experience.
I agree with you about the proposed Further Reading section, as I do find it confusing to have references and non-references mixed up within the same list. I am thinking of experimenting with one of the two-part reference formats as some of the books, in particular Brown, are going to require multiple citations of multiple pages. With standard referencing, all of the book information has to be repeated for each individual page citation, which is both irritating to the reader and takes up a lot of space on screen.
I like your idea of adding external links to some of the comprehensive background material available on the web. We can probably have the same links in all articles.
The plot summary task “No links to real persons or ships in this section" wasn't intended to exclude wikilinks entirely, but only to people and ships. Other wikilinks, for example to archaic words or practices, may well be useful and I think that the ones you've recently deleted should be added back. The reason for treating people and ships differently is that O'Brian allowed himself considerable fictional liberties with both, to the extent that the fictional person/ship and the real person/ship are in fact quite different things. The extent of any association between a real person/ship and the fictional version can better be set out in the Characters and Ships sections, where there is space for more explanation if needed. MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:03, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
MichaelMaggs, Okay with the links. My own preference is to have as few links as possible in the plot summary, and put them elsewhere in the article, to make it easier to read the summary. You have a reasonable balance for these articles. I will put two more External links in this article. It is a good scheme to do this one book at a time, as the novels vary as to how connected each one is to prior novels, so that is a good decision too. If you find one source being referenced a lot, there is also the option of rp notation, putting the page number following the reference number in the article, tying all references to one source to one reference number. I know some editors like that method, and some do not. I have used it a few times (see Little Women where the references had been very messy), and find its advantage is that it makes it immediately clear how often one source is referenced, with the a, b, c, d, etc. that show up in the Reference list. But I would not get into an argument about it if you have strong feelings against it.
I went through the References as they stand, and all the links point to a live link, and the ISBN point to the correct book. The one reference to Cunningham needs a page number and possibly the name of the article & author in his book of essays, where those reviews of Master and Commander from the first publication were found. Interesting to me, the two cites to Cunningham's book have slightly different ISBN, both valid for that book. I hope the Literary Significance section is close to okay, as to length of the quotes. In my view, the main thing to improve it would be direct citations to T J Binyon, the reviewer in Ireland who liked the books from the start, and through to W W Norton era. I tried often to find even one original review by him, but I seem not to have access to where his reviews are found, or really any British or Irish reviews at initial publication or re-publication. So the article uses Cunningham's book and Mark Horowitz's big review in the New York Times, to cover that first publication. --Prairieplant (talk) 22:50, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
Re Cunningham: The IBSN I am using is from the standard hardback edition. There are two others which, according to my copy, are used for more expensive limited-edition collectors' bindings. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:03, 7 February 2017 (UTC)
Then let's use just one ISBN, the one from the copy you are using, for Cunningham. That makes things simpler. --Prairieplant (talk) 01:41, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
MichaelMaggs, I think that the Guide to the Perplexed link belongs in each article, as the site is organized by book. It is not possible to point to the start of the section for each book the way that site is set up, but that is beyond our control. Sending people to the series article for that seems excessive. *Guide for the Perplexed by A G Brown. Translations into English of foreign phrases within this and the other novels. Perhaps change the phrase to Translations into English of foreign phrases in this novel.
In the same vein of why not repeat something in each article, I was looking at the series article before seeing these changes, and deleted the Dean King books from Further reading as they are already in the Bibliography for that article. Then I read your change here -- consistency lost. That left me thinking it is fine to repeat Further reading for each book in the series. Some people may not read the whole series of books, or the whole series of articles, and there is the off-chance that something that is Further reading in this article moves into inline citations in another article.
I think that the lead, last paragraph on reviews, needs to retain the sentence summarizing the strong points of the good reviews, or something similar to that phrasing to indicate the reasons why the novels are popular with a wide audience. The deleted phrase of interest to me is "Reception for the novel, as well as the rest of the series, emphasizes the deeply described characters, accurate description of the nautical culture and technology, and the literary style in which O'Brian writes." --Prairieplant (talk) 20:33, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
It would be useful to have others' views on the desirability of putting all the general resources for the series into the series article. I don't agree that it's useful to repeat longish lists of general resources in every article, though I'd accept Guide for the Perplexed by A G Brown since - as you say - that has a layout that is organised by book.
In the lead, something like the deleted sentence you mention would be nice to have, but it seems to be impermissible synthesis, editorialising and generalising of the specific sources we have, contrary to WP:SYN. If we can find a reliable source for some useful summary statement, that would be good. I am actively looking. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 21:34, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
I thought that part of the lead was written by Sadads, when he was trying to show me how a better lead could be written for an article on a novel, which I had been doing badly most of the time. He had pointed out some other articles with amazing highlights of the reviews. Not sure at this moment how to search that out. You would accept only quotes from specific reviewers in the lead? I thought we could use similar words, not tied to quotes. That sentence seems to be just like so many of the reviews I have read of this book, this series, but my mind is not sharp enough right now for exact quotes, remembering who said what. The WP Synthesis section seems to ask us not to draw false conclusions from a source, and I do not think that sentence in any way does that, relative to the reviews we have found. The lead wants highlights of the article. --Prairieplant (talk) 23:18, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
@Prairieplant, What would you think about reverting to individual External Links in each of the articles (as before), but keeping a consolidated Further Reading list of books in the Aubrey–Maturin series article? There is something to be said for having easily-clickable links to standard online resources at the bottom of each article, but with the longish list of general-interest books (which far fewer readers will want to follow up on) kept separate for easy maintainablity and consistency between articles.
The deleted sentence in the lead may reflect more closely the reviews of the series as a whole, rather than just this book. I'm sure I'll be able to replace it with something similar once I've completed the post 1990 reviews section (I should have done that before touching the lead, now I come to think of it). I'm away now for a few days; will continue next week. MichaelMaggs (talk) 10:20, 23 February 2017 (UTC)
That sounds reasonable. The list of further reading in the series article will sometimes have books in the Bibliography of any particular article, especially as the sfn footnote method gets used in each article. But that is not the worst thing, is it? I read one of those items on line, realized it focussed on Post Captain, and put some quotes from it in that article. The lawyer who wrote about that novel, shed a different light on it for me, and put specifics into the strong praise of Post Captain by Mary Renault. I need to read the article by the lawyer a second time, to get the legal philosophy part in my head. The rest of her points were easier to pick up, and she used a pretty strict rule for citations herself. She relied on one of Dean King's books for certain remarks, but the rest was her analysis of the plot. Some sort of reference to Richard Snow's article, but I cannot figure that one out yet; it might be as commented by King, and I did not read that yet. Enjoy your days doing other things. You have done a lot. --Prairieplant (talk) 08:39, 24 February 2017 (UTC)

@MichaelMaggs and Prairieplant:Thanks for including me in the comments. I have been traveling a lot lately for work, so have only been contributing to Wikidata when I have time. When the content is more robustly developed, I am happy to do a copy-pass/review or expansion of the lead, as a peer reviewer, before taking it to GA or FA. Sadads (talk) 00:48, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

Citing a quote in a secondary source[edit]

MichaelMaggs did you mean to change the page # for cite to Brown about the Cacafuego? If so, fine. It is far away from the page number on the Sophie. I am glad you found a place for the Author's note to this novel. There does need to be some explaining about prize money. In my pattern of reading, it was O'Brian's novels that explained it to me, put it in context for the sailors gaining the prize money, and how war was conducted then on the seas, after I wondered where the money came from in Jane Austen's Persuasion (novel). The series article never discusses the motivation of prize money or how the Royal Navy operated in that era. Add it to the series article or find a place here, perhaps a short section on the Age of sail or the Royal Navy, how it worked?
Your note about the Observer review, means you did not find it in Cunningham's book? I think those short ones were all in the Reviews section before I and others made changes to include the later reviews. But they had no more text than what you see as citations. I had assumed it was the The Observer Sunday newspaper in the UK, but that was an assumption. If not in Cunningham, where to look to find it? --Prairieplant (talk) 03:12, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, the Cacafuego is at Brown p85. Will think about the prize money question, but I'm reluctant for this article to have standalone text that effectively amounts to "interesting facts about how the Royal Navy worked in those days", as that will inevitably attract editors to add back more tangential and trivial things. Perhaps we can weave it in somehow. Not sure I left a note about the Observer, did I? Anyway, I ran out of time for that section, and still have more to do, including looking at that reference. I want to make sure all the Cunningham references cite both the original source and the fact that they were collected in the one book. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 03:38, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
MichaelMaggs You did not add that comment about the Observer, it was Trappist the Monk at, sorry. But in your additions of "via=Cummingham" in the citations at, you did not add that phrase to the Observer quote. The two edits are connected, yours and Trappist's, as the question of which Observer might, not positively, have been omitted if via=Cunningham were in the citation. --Prairieplant (talk) 04:17, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
The addition of the {{clarify}} template was mine. Editor MichaelMaggs removed it without saying to which Observer the citation refers. There are a lot of Observer's as evidenced by the items listed at Observer and The Observer (disambiguation). My question is: which of those? Some other? I've restored the {{clarify}} template.
In the cs1|2 templates, |via= is a publisher parameter, not an author parameter. Cunningham is an author not a publisher. Since the cs1 templates using |via=Cunningham presumably cite quotes of others in Cunningham, the templates should simply cite Cunningham because it is simpler, because WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT, and because that puts the burden of sourcing those quotes on Cunningham and not on Wikipedia.
Trappist the monk (talk) 10:51, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
@Trappist the Monk, As far as I can see there isn't any easy template-driven way to cite a reference which, as here, is quoted in another source. Not sure why, as this is must presumably be a pretty a common occurrence. The right thing to do would be to to format the text as recommended in WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT, along the following lines:
  • John Smith, Name of Book I Haven't Seen, Cambridge University Press, 2009, p. 99, cited in Paul Jones, Name of Encyclopedia I Have Seen, Oxford University Press, 2010, p. 29.
but we lack a 'cited in' parameter. |Via= is the obvious and closest-available option, short of adding free text (outside the template) to every citation, which would be very clunky. According to WP:CS1 |Via= is not a publisher parameter but is intended for the "Name of the content deliverer (when they are not the publisher) ... It may be used when the content deliverer presents the source in a format other than the original". In this case, a book, edited - not authored - by Cunningham, is the means whereby the original source content is presented. So, |Via= seems the best currently available option.
There really ought to be something more specific, though. Any idea how (or if) it would be possible to propose a new parameter to added to the template? Or are there other options? MichaelMaggs (talk)
If you want to ping me, it's Trappist the monk not Trappist the Monk.
I suspect that the reason that there isn't a |cited-in= parameter in cs1|2 is because such a construct would mean citing two sources in a template designed to cite a single source. To include the bibliographic details of an original source cited in a second source as described in WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT, it is necessary to use two cs1|2 templates: one for the original source and one for the citing source. This is why I suggested citing only Cunningham; it is simple, it is straightforward, and it is still correct. We are not then responsible for the accuracy of the original source bibliographic information – which, because we have not seen the original source (else we'd have cited it directly), may or may not be correct.
|via= is a publisher parameter – look at where it is included in the template documentation: Template:Cite_journal#Publisher.
Trappist the monk (talk) 01:17, 11 February 2017 (UTC)
@Trappist the monk and MichaelMaggs Using only Cunningham as the source would lose the information of the dates of the original reviews, shortly after initial publication. It is said generally in the text, but I think it is essential with the inline citations. Cunningham's book is dated after the W. W. Norton re-issues of this and later novels in the series. Instead of via, could this phrase "reprinted in" or simply "in" the relevant essay in Cunningham, resolve the problem? I have tried to find the original sources, but not yet succeeded, which would be the best solution, resolving for certain that it is the Sunday Observer published in London. Aside, I cannot figure out how to make the pinging work, even with a green lower case m for Trappist the monk. --Prairieplant (talk) 10:50, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I entirely agree that referencing Cunningham alone, as if he were the ultimate origin of the reviews, is not right. We should try to follow the example I quoted above, in WP:SAYWHEREYOUGOTIT. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 14:27, 14 February 2017 (UTC)
{{U|Trappist the {{green|m}}onk}} didn't work because of the {{green|m}} template that I added to emphasize the correct capitalization. You then fixed the {{U}} template but, for pings to work, they require new text and a new signature. Kind of a pain, but it does prevent multiple duplicate pings. When copy/pasting usernames, best to take the name directly from the user's signature (in edit mode).
I still have to ask: how do you know that the citations given in Cunningham are true and correct? Without you see the originals, I don't think that you can know. You do know that Cunningham has claimed them to be true and correct so citing only Cunningham because that is where you got the quotes and their attendant cites is not wrong. You can write the quote:
"Dashing, well-timbered, pickled in the period, and with strong human tensions and cross-currents."—Benedict Nightingale. Observer. 18 January 1970.[1]
Cunningham, A. E., ed. (1994). Patrick O'Brian: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography. Boston Spa: The British Library. ISBN 0-7123-1070-3.


  1. ^ Cunningham 1994, p. 160.
This more-or-less duplicates how the quote is cited in Cunningham. The same would apply to The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and the others. If and when the originals can be located, then cite them directly and take Cunningham out of the equation.
Trappist the monk (talk) 16:27, 14 February 2017 (UTC)

Yes that's one way to indicate to the reader both the original source of the quote and its secondary source. Unfortunately it requires the text "Observer. 18 January 1970." to be set out within the main body of the article, so it would only work where that text won't interfere with the flow, for example where the quote appears on its own or as part of a list. A more general approach requiring only an inline reference number is to use the "quote in a secondary source" recommendation in the Additional comments or quotes section of this page. Hence the following, which makes it clear what the editor has actually seen while also stating the originating author and source:

"Dashing, well-timbered, pickled in the period, and with strong human tensions and cross-currents."[1]


  1. ^ Nightingale, Benedict (18 January 1970). "Book review". Observer, quoted in Cunningham 1994, p. 161

Cunningham, A. E., ed. (1994). Patrick O'Brian: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography. Boston Spa: The British Library. ISBN 0-7123-1070-3.

MichaelMaggs (talk) 15:53, 15 February 2017 (UTC)

(edit conflict)

You might want to consider {{od}} when outdenting a conversation.
The documentation for {{sfn}} and specifically Template:sfn#Additional comments or quotes does not apply to cs1|2. The cs1|2 documentation defines |postscript= as a parameter that controls terminal punctuation (see Template:Cite news#csdoc_postscript). Additional text as you have written can be placed after the cs1|2 template's closing }} and before the reference's closing </ref> tag.
In the above example, you assert that the title in Observer is "Book review". How is that known? In earlier comments I suggested that simply citing Cunningham puts the burden of sourcing the quotes on Cunningham. By claiming a source's title not supplied by Cunningham, you have taken up that burden of proof. Do you really want that? What if I now say "prove it"?
An alternate to your version might be:
<ref>[[Benedict Nightingale]]. ''Observer''. 18 January 1970; quoted in {{harvnb|Cunningham|1994|p=160}}</ref>
This avoids the problem of the title, misuse of cs1|2 parameters, and keeps the source attribution out of running text.
Trappist the monk (talk) 16:25, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Maybe that's the best available option. I started by saying "As far as I can see there isn't any easy template-driven way to cite a reference which, as here, is quoted in another source", and we have ended up having to handle this common situation with a custom free-text <ref></ref> layout. MichaelMaggs (talk) 21:58, 15 February 2017 (UTC)
Yep, I think you're right. It is ok to not use templates when templates don't do what needs to be done. The cs1|2 templates are general purpose tools that are capable of doing most of the citation work that needs doing. But, because they are general purpose, they cannot do every thing.
It occurs to me to wonder: who is the essay author in Cunningham? What is the essay title? After all, it isn't necessarily Cunningham who is quoting Nightingale, but rather it's the essay author who is quoting Nightingale. And, answering my own questions from google snippets: Stuart Bennett and "Four Decades of Reviews". So, with that, Cunningham becomes Bennett:
{{cite book |last=Bennett |first=Stuart |editor-first=A. E. |editor-last=Cunningham |chapter=Four Decades of Reviews |title=Patrick O'Brian: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography |publisher=The British Library |publication-place=Boston Spa|year=1994 |isbn=0-7123-1070-3 |ref=harv}}
Bennett, Stuart (1994). "Four Decades of Reviews". In Cunningham, A. E. Patrick O'Brian: Critical Appreciations and a Bibliography. Boston Spa: The British Library. ISBN 0-7123-1070-3.
Trappist the monk (talk) 12:36, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
That's helpful. Thanks. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 22:16, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
Trappist the monkVery nice to have the author of the essay. If I could find those newspaper cites directly, believe me I would; I have searched for them often, but not yet found the database, other than that book, which contains them. All that color stuff that confused me was to emphasize lower case m versus upper case M? Trying once again with the ping. Sorry I am so slow to catch on. Well, previewing this note, I see the ping still is in read and says your page does not exist, and I know you have no user page, just a talk page. Over my head, I guess. --Prairieplant (talk) 20:22, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
Ping received.
Trappist the monk (talk) 20:30, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
MichaelMaggsJust now I changed 1789 Battle of the Nile to 1798 Battle of the Nile in O'Brian's sources, and some phrases around that, to make clearer what the abstruse War of the 2nd Coalition phrase means. I know those into those wars understand each coalition, and how nations backed in and out of the coalition with England (the country was in or out of Napoleon's empire, one reason), but in my view, to the average reader of the Wikipedia article, that is abstruse, inside baseball, and more to the point, it takes a while to understand that 20 years of wars between England (or do we say Great Britain, with all those Scottish and Irish in both Navy and Army?) and France, were broken into sections with intricate names based on complex changing alliances. I also proffer the notion that for these novels, precisely who was in or out of the coalitions is not very important, for understanding and appreciating the novel. It is clearly important to know when Spain was at war with England, or not, or when the USA was at war with England or not, which is usually a key part of the plot action, and very obvious. That is why I tried to get rid of links to War of the 2nd coalition and stick to the link to the Napoleonic Wars, which article, in its lead, explains that there was a war of the 2nd coalition, then the peace of Amiens before the formally named Napoleonic Wars began. To me, that break out of the allies in each "war" is far more detailed than naming all the species seen by Maturin in any one voyage or novel. Just a notion. --Prairieplant (talk) 20:22, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
OK. Makes sense to keep it straightforward. MichaelMaggs (talk) 21:27, 19 February 2017 (UTC)

Battle of Algeciras[edit]

The plot summary has Aubrey being released from French captivity after watching the Battle of Algeciras from Gibraltar. Is that the true order? Alfie Gandon (talk) 23:51, 8 February 2017 (UTC)

Alfie Gandon Yes it is correct. First Aubrey sees things from the French ship where he is prisoner of war, then, still a prisoner of war but exchanged, he watches from Gibraltar. After that battle, his court-martial is held, for losing his ship, the Sophie, to the French. The Plot summary does not need the sentences in exactly the order of the text, I believe that is what confuses you. I removed the Clarify tag, as they did watch from Gibraltar, even if that is said before the exchanging in the next sentence. --Prairieplant (talk) 02:11, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
I disagree. Everything else is in chronological order, and the current text gives the impression that the French were in possession of Gibraltar. Alfie Gandon (talk) 11:39, 9 February 2017 (UTC)
I may have clarified it sufficiently. Others may disagree. Regardless, there is some very nice work going on here, well done all. nerdgoonrant (talk) 03:34, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
That looks good. Thanks.--MichaelMaggs (talk) 08:35, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
It does indeed. Alfie Gandon (talk) 10:12, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Publication History section[edit]

While somebody has evidently put a lot of work into preparing the list of publications, it has to be said that this level of detail will be of little or no interest to the average reader of the article. The length of the section and the fact that it comprises a more-or-less impenetrable wall of text severely unbalances the article as a whole and impacts its readability. If nobody objects I propose to split out the list into a new sub-article, and simply include a summary here. The same approach can be taken for several of the other novels in the series. MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:11, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

MichaelMaggs I do not know what a sub-article is, so I cannot comment on how that would work for this or later articles.
The re-issue Geoff Hunt cover belongs here, I think, following the model used in articles on novels by Agatha Christie, whose books were sometimes released first in the UK, other times first in the USA, and sometimes with different titles and different first edition covers. The chronologically first cover is in the infobox, and the other first cover (for that nation) is in Publication history most of the time. If there is some other Wikipedia guidance that makes the many articles on Christie novels a bad example, do let me know. What I thought was to put the list after the text in this article. The section developed with the list first, and then the story part was found in reliable sources, the story of Starling Lawrence and W. W. Norton and a new market of readers. Would it become more "penetrable" with the re-issue cover image and text first, followed by the list? (Is that average reader the same one who would think Gibraltar was changing hands in the early 19th century?) Lists of editions are included in the articles on the Cadfael series, which includes 20 completed novels, beginning with A Morbid Taste for Bones. Some articles have more of a list, others count up the editions in sentences, and some list the foreign language editions. For this series of novels, it seems important to me to mark the effect of the reissues by W. W. Norton, and to include an ISBN to a Norton edition, for the fact of it, and because it explains the variety of reviews of this novel and those following in the series. Impenetrable, that sounds like you really do not like that list! --Prairieplant (talk) 10:19, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
Oh yes a list like that with ISBN will need some attention, as the so-called magic ISBN feature will disappear soon. That is, ISBN in upper case followed by a valid number now lights up in blue and links to Book sources page. That will be changed to a template, I believe, needing curly brackets around ISBN and the number; it is proposed to have a bot find the usage such as this impenetrable list. This change does not affect isbn= in cite book format, as I understand it. --Prairieplant (talk) 10:14, 12 February 2017 (UTC)
MichaelMaggs & Prairieplant here is what Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Novels has to say in its section on Publication history (emphasis mine):
"Relying on research (see below), you should briefly outline the publication history of the novel ONLY if there is interesting information to relate. For example, some novels, such as William Godwin's Caleb Williams, were published with two different endings. Some novels were first published serially and then later published as bound books; this is the case with many of Charles Dickens' novels, for example. Maria Edgeworth altered significant elements of one of the marriage plots of her novel Belinda in response to criticism after the first edition was published. Other novels have been censored or altered by later editors. If there are no particularly interesting details to relate, try to work the basic facts of the novel's first publication into the article at some point. If both sections are short, it may be appropriate to merge Background and Publication history."
I realize that this is advice is commonly ignored and many, many novel articles contain long lists of detailed publications with ISBN numbers. I agree with the MOS that they don't belong here. If one looks at the FA and GA articles from the Novel project you will see that almost none of them (based on a random sampling of the 300+ articles there) contain these laundry lists of publication detail. And as far as verifiable sources, it seems that this entire list is sourced from the website, a privately run, unreviewed source. I would recommend removing the list in its entirety and not worrying about moving it to a sub-article. The information exists on the internet for those who want to find it, IMHO it doesn't belong in an encylopaedia article. nerdgoonrant (talk) 13:02, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
I would be more than happy with that. The list appears to be poorly-sourced, overly detailed and out of date. We should probably have a short section here setting out the early US and UK publication history, when the books were well-repected but not hugely popular, and the Norton and later UK reissues which generated far more interest. One of the sources I have has a quote from O'Brian explaining that nicely. Will add it when I'm back home again, in a few days. MichaelMaggs (talk) 22:27, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
So the text is not liked any more than the list? Ah well. I hope you agree on the Geoff Hunt cover -- the only one added for those books issued with a non-Geoff Hunt first edition cover. Thanks for the information from style guide. I never saw that, judged from prior articles I read. --Prairieplant (talk) 20:16, 17 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that we should keep or acquire the Hunt cover image for each of the books; see Task List above. MichaelMaggs (talk) 17:23, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Just noting for future reference that the Geoff Hunt covers can be found here. MichaelMaggs (talk) 22:55, 18 February 2017 (UTC)
Yes, I know that is where to find them, but only this first cover has been brought into Wikipedia with a copyright page done to say it is used for identification of the book and small size image. Another editor did that work for this article, and then I moved it out of infobox into Publication history section, so both covers appear only in the article for this novel, of those novels up to The Reverse of the Medal, the last one whose first edition did not have a Geoff Hunt cover. From The Letter of Marque onwards, the first edition cover is the Geoff Hunt cover. So 10 more images and copyright notices need to be brought into Wikipedia for use in the 10 corresponding articles. --Prairieplant (talk) 20:36, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
I'll bring them in as we go unless anyone beats me to it. MichaelMaggs (talk) 21:38, 19 February 2017 (UTC)
Been meaning to say, MichaelMaggs, you are doing good work looking up information in useful sources, like the essays in Cunningham's book and some of King's books. --Prairieplant (talk) 04:38, 2 March 2017 (UTC)

Preferred template for columns?[edit]

I have used the {{columns-list}} template to create columns for the Characters and Ships sections, but I see that Publication history uses {{divcol}} / {{EndDivCol}}. Is there any preference as to which should be used? So far as I can see, both produce a similar result, and both work well when the article is viewed on an iPhone. MichaelMaggs (talk) 11:49, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

MichaelMaggs this seems to be one of those frustrating situations where two almost identical methods exist with nothing in particular to recommend one over the other. They seem to be able to coexist in peace; probably good to not lose much sleep over it? But if a need for consistency (which I completely understand) demands it, I would say by all means unify them to {{columns-list}}. nerdgoonrant (talk) 13:11, 16 February 2017 (UTC)
OK, will do that simply for the sake of consistency if nothing else. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 22:30, 16 February 2017 (UTC)

Cover artist[edit]

According to the infobox, the artist for the 1st US edition (Lippincott) was 'Harvey'. Can we find a source for that, and some more details (eg a first name)? --MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:20, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

Characters section[edit]

This section lists several very minor characters (as do similar sections in other articles in the series). The Manual of Style/Novels#Characters says "If appropriate, a character section would consist of brief character outlines, as opposed to a simple list. Length of each entry should vary relative to the character's importance to the story. Most articles do not need this section. Instead, a finely crafted plot summary is used to introduce the characters to the reader." That would seem to imply minor characters shouldn't be mentioned at all. Could the section be restricted to major/significant characters only, and the title changed to Principal characters? That would be my preference. MichaelMaggs (talk) 22:34, 18 February 2017 (UTC)

OK. In the absence of objections I have gone ahead. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 04:42, 22 February 2017 (UTC)
MichaelMaggs I did not see this comment until just now. It pained me a bit to see that carefully constructed list of characters disappear, even the new lieutenant who replaces Dillon is gone. In later novels of this series, I began mentioning in which book a character first appeared, relying on the character lists to be accurate. Further, characters have larger or smaller roles when appearing in more than one novel. I have not checked if any character taken off the list here is mentioned as fist appearing in this novel. This book has a lot of characters, as we are introduced to every facet of operating a sailing ship in 1800. The Plot summary could not be long enough to mention more than a few characters by name, so that Manual of Style guidance seems frustrating here. Middlemarch by George Eliot depicts the life of a whole village in one novel, and its list of characters includes some who are not mentioned in the Plot summary. The other point about naming so many characters with so many distinct roles on the ship that seems pertinent to me, is that O'Brian put forward a full universe for the reader, a significant aspect of this novel and the whole series. If the novel were simply a lead up to the Cochrane events retold in fiction, all those characters would not need names and personalities, in my view, just job titles like Chips, quartermaster, bosun and the like. Well I am not saying this very well, my reason for valuing the long list. Yes, there is a list of recurring characters in the series, but it is not as well-written as I expected. I found it easier to make an accurate list in the article for each novel, than to keep that associated article clear, accurate and inclusive of all the novels. The split of main characters and shipmates or minor characters, is that appealing? --Prairieplant (talk) 17:37, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
@Prairieplant, we have to bear in mind that we are writing for readers of the encyclopedia, who presumably come to us to learn something about the book. A full character list isn't in the least helpful to readers, and is non-encyclopedic writing (see eg WP:INDISCRIMINATE) even though it might satisfy a collecting instinct among editors who are die-hard O'Brian fans. Until last week the list in this article was so random that it even left out Preserved Killick. Listing characters by their first appearance would be a good thing to do in Recurring characters in the Aubrey–Maturin series, though I do agree that that's pretty badly written. Looking at Featured Articles, I can't see any that have long lists of every possible character, though some do have lists of principal characters with a few sentences (no more) about each. That could work here, perhaps, allowing us to say a little about Dillon's personality while relying on the Recurring characters article for longer essays. MichaelMaggs (talk) 08:32, 5 March 2017 (UTC)

Geoff Hunt covers[edit]

Hi all, I was the one who uploaded the Geoff Hunt cover for M&C into the infobox, which prairieplant subsequently moved to the Publication History section. I have the rest of the images ready to go and can upload them and create their fair-use rationales some evening in the near future. Before doing so I wanted to poll the crowd (all five or six of us) to see if there was any interest in using the Hunt covers in the infoboxes, rather than in the Publication history section. I know there are some strong feelings among infobox users about the use of first edition images, but the following text (emphasis mine) is from Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Novels#Infobox:

The image presented in the table should be the most significant cover historically for that book; often this is the first edition, but occasionally it is not. For example, sometimes authors make drastic revisions to texts and later editions are considered to be the "preferred" edition. The most important factor in choosing an illustration for your infobox is knowledge and reasoning: do you know why you are choosing that image and can you justify it? Remember also, that still copyrighted images can only be uploaded as non-free content, which means that you have to give a rationale for why the cover is being used.

I would argue that the Hunt covers are the most significant covers historically for all of the re-issues, as the new covers heralded their rebirth and subsequent massive popularity. None of the first edition covers are public domain, so there is no argument to be made from that perspective. If we did want to use the Hunt covers in the infobox, we could preserve the first edition covers in the Publication history section. I'll be honest, my main reason for wanting to use them in the infobox is to unify the articles visually.

Other thoughts? nerdgoonrant (talk) 12:54, 21 February 2017 (UTC)

I entirely agree. The Hunt covers are of much greater historic significance, as well as being by a notable artist, being artistically far superior, and having the advantage of unifying the entire series. The Lippincott cover was used for only a fairly short period, and has no better claim to be selected for the infobox than the original 1970 Collins cover. As we have to choose one, my definite preferences is for Hunt. MichaelMaggs (talk) 13:38, 21 February 2017 (UTC)
First edition in the infobox is my choice. There are no preferred editions for these novels, as these novels did not change in the re-issues. What did change is how people responded to the novels. It was the stories, not the covers that drew the new market. Collins had already commissioned Hunt for the covers in 1988 for the first 12 novels (with The Letter of Marque in 1988 the first to have Geoff Hunt for the first edition cover by Collins) before Starling Lawrence read his first novel by O'Brian (1989) and W. W. Norton got involved (1990 onwards), as described in Treason's Harbour#Publication history. There was a loyal audience who read the books with the non-Geoff Hunt first edition covers and wrote reviews, as Kevin Myers describes in his article after O'Brian died in 2000.[1] I agree the articles of the first 11 novels need both covers, first edition and re-issue cover, to aid in explaining that there was a huge increase in readership. Visual unity of the articles? I value that for sections included, uniform opening paragraph of the lead, but not the cover art. I am glad you have all the covers ready to be placed in the articles, Nerdgoonrant. Maybe make them a photo gallery in the series article, in addition to their appearance in the article for each novel? --Prairieplant (talk) 19:50, 22 February 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Myers, Kevin (22 January 2000). "O'Brian: the most Irish Englishman". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 3 January 2015.
Prairieplant, I'm not sure what your argument is in favour of keeping the first edition cover in the infobox? According to the MOS quote above, we should be choosing the most significant cover historically. The reference to "preferred editions" was only given as an example, not a requirement. I don't think anyone is suggesting that the Hunt covers are the cause of the increased popularity of the books; they may have helped increase sales, as any good visual advertising will do, but let's assume that for the most part they were just along for the ride. Since their creation however, they have become iconically associated with the series. I don't think I'm denying the sincerity of those who read and loved the book before the Hunt cover reissue by making these observations. The cover of the Lippincott first edition was first; that is its sole claim to historical significance. The Hunt cover, on the other hand, is by a major maritime artist, was commissioned to visually unify the entire series, has been the cover of this book for more than half of its existence, and is iconcially identified with this book by most readers (I don't have research to back that up, just common sense and math). I really do think the case for Hunt is overwhelming. And I'm not sure why the Hunt covers would be appropriate to use in a picture gallery on the series page, but not appropriate in the infoboxes on the individual articles? (The fair-use policy would likely advise against multiple uses of the non-public-domain images anyway). Anyone else care to weigh in? nerdgoonrant (talk) 14:59, 25 February 2017 (UTC)
There doesn't seem a lot of interest in this, but opinions are currently 2-1 in favour of Hunt. Prairieplant, would you accept that on the basis of the arguments above, or how would you suggest we move this forward? MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:21, 28 February 2017 (UTC)
I agree with @Prairieplant: on this one, actually. Though I am in love with the Hunt covers: they have a different historical significance (and since both have to be given adeqeute Fair Use justification, it makes sense for the one that actually has commentary on it, to be in the publication history section: since its the subject of the commentary). Sadads (talk) 00:44, 1 March 2017 (UTC)
Hi @Sadads:, thanks for weighing in. I'm afraid I don't understand your argument though. I agree that the Hunt covers do have a different historical significance, and would add that they have a greater historical significance for all the reasons listed above. And according to the MOS for Novels, that should make it the better choice for the infobox. There is currently no commentary on the Hunt cover in the Publication history section, but if it were added I don't see a problem with adding (shown in infobox) to clarify, and showing the first edition cover in the Publication history section still makes sense to me. I have no experience of Fair Use rationales being denied, so if you're saying that using both images in the way I'm proposing would result in one of them being denied, I'll have to take your word on that. The discussion now sits at 2-2. Not a strong vote in favour of deviating from the status quo. Cheers, nerdgoonrant (talk) 13:17, 2 March 2017 (UTC)
@Nerdgoonrant: Sorry: there should be commentary on the covers in the Publication history: they were fundamental parts of the Norton & Norton republishing effort that made the novels popular again. I have a couple sources on this hanging out at my home (pretty sure there is discussion of them in the Cunningham collection) which link them closely with the visibility of the books in the broader public and the resurgance of popularity. Also, we should take a look at The Geoff Hunt Artbook. The Hunt covers are a very specific historical moment in the publication of the series, that bring on a much different interpretation of their role in public awareness of historical fiction (just like the covers that have pictures from the movie, say something else about the books). Sadads (talk) 17:15, 4 March 2017 (UTC)
@Sadads and Prairieplant: Sorry, I honestly do hate to sound like a broken record, but could someone please say one thing that supports the argument that the first edition cover by "Harvey" (first name apparently unknown) is of greater historical significance to this novel than the Geoff Hunt cover? It's a fairly binary operation. nerdgoonrant (talk) 12:40, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
Nerdgoonrant The guidance on the infobox for a book does not agree with your Manual of Style quote. This is from, emphasis added by me.
Image (prefer 1st edition – where permitted), use bare filename: Example.jpg
I understand that you feel the Geoff Hunt covers improved sales, are significant to the history of the novels, but mainly you like those covers. I cannot say I agree with you about the covers being significant to the importance of the novels, to quote the adage, do not judge a book by its cover. If the writing had not been excellent inside those 1st edition covers, we would not be having this discussion, that is my second reason, after following the rules of the infobox template. There is precedent for showing two covers for one novel, in Wikipedia articles, but I do not know who raises the objections to the small cover images used, beyond my experience. I do think some text is appropriate about Collins asking Geoff Hunt to make new covers for the series, in this article or the series article. There is none now in either. More to your point, I think the first edition cover always belongs in the infobox. Without that first edition, there are no succeeding editions. --Prairieplant (talk) 06:19, 7 March 2017 (UTC)
@Prairieplant: Thanks for your response. I was familiar with that Infobox_book template parameter prefer 1st edition, with no further explanation or rationale, and thought it was the (disappointing) final word on the subject, which is why I was so excited to find a paragraph of reasoned policy in the Manual of Style for Novels, which I thought might supersede a terse template parameter. More the fool I. You have presented a knock-down argument as to why the first cover is always the most historically significant cover, for without it there could truly be no future covers. This same argument proves that in discussions of who is the most historically significant human being of all time (which you might think would be heated) the answer must always be Adam. I will now gracelessly withdraw from these pleasantries, gather my things, and go play in another less parochial patch of the Wiki world. No doubt someone who agrees with your views will be interested in doing the work of uploading and writing fair-use rationales. A bird in the hand is worth an early worm. @MichaelMaggs: good luck, and keep up the good work! nerdgoonrant (talk) 12:47, 7 March 2017 (UTC)
Sorry to be seen as parochial. Do check on this now and then, Nerdgoonrant. Thanks for getting the cover for this first novel, work appreciated. --Prairieplant (talk) 10:29, 8 March 2017 (UTC)

I'm going to do a bit more research on the Hunt covers, and I've ordered up the following to look at at the British Library next week. Are there any other books I should be looking at? Let me know and I'll add them to the list.

  • Hunt, G. (2008). The Marine Art of Geoff Hunt : Master painter of the naval world of Nelson and Patrick O'Brian / Geoff Hunt ; foreword by Julian Stockwin ; introduction by David Cordingly. London: Conway.
  • Hunt, G. (2012). The Sea Painter's World : The new marine art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 / Geoff Hunt.
  • Friel, I. (2012). [Book review?] The Sea Painter's World: The new marine art of Geoff Hunt, 2003-2010 - By Geoff Hunt. The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology., 41(2), 469-470.
  • Cross, R. (1998). The Tall Ship in Art / Roy Cross ... [et al.] ; foreword by Alex A. Hurst. London: Blandford.

(Wow. There's a book in the catalogue called Master and Commander: a collection of five erotic spanking stories. I won't order that one :) ) MichaelMaggs (talk) 18:10, 17 January 2018 (UTC)

Pinging interested editors @Prairieplant:, @Sadads:, @Nerdgoonrant:, @Trappist the monk:. MichaelMaggs (talk) 02:17, 18 January 2018 (UTC)

Here is a link to an interview with Geoff Hunt done in 1993. and you probably already have the link to Don Selzer's remarks on seven of the covers, at . The titles you have found look very interesting. --Prairieplant (talk) 04:18, 18 January 2018 (UTC)
I pulled out the Cunningham the other night, and didn't find anything that immediately and directly describes the impact here. Otherwise what you have pulled there looks good. Sadads (talk) 17:31, 19 January 2018 (UTC)