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Cecil Scott Forester: biography and creativity
Cecil Scott Forester: biography and creativity

Cecil Scott Forester became known to a wide range of readers after a series of books about midshipman Hornblower. But his pen belongs not only to the fascinating saga of the adventures of the young Horatio. Cecil Scott has written several historical books, maritime stories and fascinating detective stories, one of which was published 44 years after the writer's death.


Cecil Scott Forester, the youngest of five children, was born on 27 August 1899 to a British official in Cairo, George Smith and Sarah Totron. The mother and children returned to England when Cecil was two years old. Great Britain seemed to the boy cold and unfriendly.

At the age of three, he was sent to an early childhood school, by which time he could read and write. He studied well, but this did not save him from the ridicule of his classmates because of his fragile physique. But the boy strove for knowledge, besides, the sisters and brothers won scholarships, and Cecil had to do the same. He preferred reading to games. It became one of his daily habits.

cecil scott forester


After graduating from Alleyn's School at Dulwich College in London, Cecil studied medicine at Guy's Hospital. During the First World War, he tried to get to the front, but did not pass the medical examination due to a violation of the heart rhythm. During the examination, he wrote articles for the hospital newspaper and found that he liked this activity much more than medicine.

During World War II, Forester moved to the US and worked at the British Ministry of Information, where he wrote propaganda articles encouraging the US to join the Allies.

Forester decided to devote himself to literature and in 1920 he left medical school. But not everything went smoothly in the career of a novice writer. The publishers invariably rejected the first works. And Forester patiently rewrote them over and over again, honing his writing skills.


Cecil Scott Forester won no major literary awards. His merit lies elsewhere: he created a character whose name has become part of everyday speech. The extent to which Cecil's character "got used" to reality can be judged by the way President Jimmy Carter praised former Deputy Prime Minister Hubert Horatio Humphrey in 1980.

Traditionally, Carter ended his speech with solemnity: "That great American, Hubert Horatio Hornblower." Few heard, but the president explained that very night that he was thinking of none other than the immortal naval hero Horatio Hornblower, created by S. S. Forester.

cecil scott forester hornblower

Hornblower Series

During a fifty-year career as a writer, Forester wrote eleven books about Hornblower. The first of these, Midshipman Hornblower, was published in 1960. He did not conceive them as a series, but for twenty years he returned to his beloved hero. In addition to novels, there are five short stories in the same cycle.

While traveling along the Bering Sea, Forester fell ill with atherosclerosis. The desire to write brought him back to life. While ill, he worked on the book Hornblower in the West Indies. Forester thought that if he died, at least the stories would remain. Therefore, each chapter in this volume is like a finished novel. Eight years later, in 1966, the writer died. And one of his stories about Hornblower - "Trafalgar Wind" - remained unfinished.

List of Hornblower books by Forester Cecil Scott in order of writing by author:

  • 1937 - "Everything is in place!";
  • 1937 - "Ship of the Line";
  • 1938 - "Under the Banner of Victory";
  • 1945 - Commodore Hornblower;
  • 1946 - "Lord Hornblower";
  • 1950 - Midshipman Hornblower;
  • 1952 - "Lieutenant Hornblower";
  • 1953 - "Hornblower and Atropa";
  • 1958 - "Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies";
  • 1962 - "Hornblower and the Desperate";
  • 1967 – Trafalgar Wind.
hornblower book list

Books and adaptations

In addition to the Hornblower saga, Cecil Scott Forester has written twenty-four novels, two collections of short stories and ten non-fiction books. The first of these, Retribution by Installments, came out in 1926. This detective is considered one of the best forthroughout the history of the genre. Forester achieved the success he dreamed of.

The plays he wrote were staged in the West End. After the publication of The General and The African Queen in the late 1930s, Forester and Hollywood noticed. Ten of the author's books have been filmed, a series based on the series about Captain Hornblower has been made:

  • Payment Deferred (1932);
  • Brown on Resolution (1935);
  • Eagle Squadron (1942);
  • "The Commandos Attack at Dawn" (1942);
  • "Eternity and Day" (1943);
  • "The African Queen" (1951);
  • "Captain Horatio" (1951);
  • "Royal Sailor" (1953);
  • "Pride and Passion" (1957);
  • "Sink the Bismarck" (1960).
forester cecil scott hornblower book list

Disappeared manuscript

In 2011, the name of Cecil Scott Forester flashed in all the newspapers. It was reported that the lost novel "The Pursued" was going to press. It was written in 1935, but the writer decided not to submit the manuscript for publication, as he wanted to focus on the Hornblower saga.

In 2003, a copy of Forester's text surfaced at an auction in London, the seller wished to remain anonymous. The author himself said that the manuscript was lost. But maybe there is a copy somewhere in the pantry. Critics noted that Forester's crime novel, taking into account all the canons of the detective genre, masterfully conveys the emotions and feelings of the characters, and the dark side of London life.

The whole series about the adventures of sea captain Hornblower and twodetective "Retribution in installments" and "Don't Wake the Beast." Judging by the feedback from readers, Cecil Scott Forester's books deserve attention: the author lovingly created the world around his characters, prescribing details and characters.

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