About Author / Age of Sail / Book Review / Book Series / Jack Aubrey / Non Fiction / Patrick Robinson / Royal Navy / Stephen Maturin

Background on Patrick O’Brian

Patrick O’Brian, the “father” of Captain Jack Aubrey and his particular friend doctor Stephen Maturin, was a fantastic writer. The series of 20 books about these two characters – their travels, their conversations, their lives, the espionage, and all the rest – will probably for a long, long time be remembered as one of the most entertaining, special, and interesting series of historical fiction books ever.

I am a huge fan of Patrick O’Brian. He has given me so much joy. I enjoy the naval battles, his description of daily life in the Royal Navy, aboard the ships, or even just a really nice, cute conversation between some of the very memorable characters in the series. And the irony, the humor, and the warmth of the books as well.

Of course, much has been written about Patrick O’Brian, both positive and negative. I thought I would share some of the articles I have enjoyed with other fans of the series interested in learning more about the author. So here are some pieces I view as especially interesting:

An Author I’d Walk the Plank For, by Richard Snow. — A very nice article from the New York Times that contributed much to the interest in Jack Aubrey in the United States.

Patrick O’Brian – in memorial, at W.W. Norton’s site.

Patrick O’Brian: the Final Chapter, by Michael McCarthy in The Independent. — The somewhat sad but real story of the life of a great author who also wanted a great past.

Science at sea – What the novels of Patrick O’Brian can teach us, by Stephen Curry.

APPRECIATION – Patrick O’Brian — An Austen of the Deep, by Jon Carroll, San Francisco Chronicle.

He may not have been the man he claimed to be, but he most certainly was a magnificent writer that has entertained millions of readers and will entertain more millions in the future as well.

You may also want to have a look at the biography by Dean H. King. King’s retelling of the origin of Master and Commander and the following 19 Aubrey-Maturin novels depicts how O’Brian transformed an editor’s idea for a C. S. Forester replacement into a genre-busting sea-going roman-fleuve. The glimpses into O’Brian’s personal life that King salvages from the author’s secrecy include estrangement from his surviving siblings and his son from his first marriage. Steering just clear of judging O’Brian’s shortcomings, King’s charting of this stormy life makes it clear that O’Brian (who died earlier this year at 85) saved his best for his beloved Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin. Patrick O’Brian: A Life Revealed is well-written and detailed, fast-moving, and as entertaining as it is informative. It is positive in portraying O’Brian’s great talent yet honest in confronting his shortcomings; in short, it is everything you could want in a biography.