Captian Frederick Marryat (1792-1848) first attempted to run away to sea at fourteen. His father, a member of Parliament, helped him secure a midshipman's berth on a frigate commanded by the daring Thomas Cochrane. Frederick would go on to serve in the British Royal Navy for over twenty years, serving in the Battle of Aix Roads and the War of 1812. When he turned his pen to naval life, he became the preeminent chronicler of British naval seamen in the great Age of Nelson.
Frederick Marryat, Frank Mildmay: Book Two of the Marryat Cycle. It can be argued that modern nautical fiction began with this book the first that flowed from Frederick Marryat's pen. Written in 1829, it follows the adventures of Frank Mildmay as he enters the Royal Navy and begins his rocky climb up the career ladder.
Frederick Marryat, The King's Own, Book Three of the Marryat Cycle. The plot takes place about the time of the Nore and Spithead mutinies (1797). A man is hanged for his role in those events, but his son is adopted by the seamen on his old ship. He moves through the ranks from ship's boy, to midshipman, to lieutenant; but part of the mystery of the young man is the broad anchor that is branded on his arm. It's the same symbol that is on all of the King's possessions aboard ship.
Frederick Marryat, Newton Forster, Book Four of Marryat Cycle. Newton Forster, the master of a coastal brig, is illegally pressed into the Royal Navy. Through a variety of maneuvers, however, he winds up on an East Indiaman where he undergoes a series of adventures with the Bombay Marine-the East India Company's private military arm. Included are shipwrecks, escapes, and love interests as he eventually rises to command his own ship.
Frederick Marryat, Peter Simple, Book Five of Marryat Cycle. Peter Simple goes to sea as a young, naive, midshipman during the Napoleonic wars. He is taken under the wing of Terence O'Brien, a Master's Mate, who, a bit at a time, brings Peter into a mature adulthood. Together they form a kind of nautical Don Quixote/Sancho Panza team that experiences the best and the worst that the nautical life has to offer.
Frederick Marryat, Jacob Faithful, Book Six of Marryat Cycle. Jacob Faithful grows up literally on his father's Thames lighter. When both of his parents die in a very strange freak accident, Jacob is left with a sum of money large enough to get a good start in life. But rather than leave the river, he stays. He is brought up by the owner of the dock where his family's boat was based; and becomes an apprentice first to a bargeman, then a wherryman, and eventually is pressed into the Royal Navy.
Frederick Marryat, Mr. Midshipman Easy, Book Seven of Marryat Cycle. Jack Easy is a boy who comes from wealth. Along the way, his father, who regards himself as something of a philosopher, imbues him with the notion that all men are utterly and completely equal. That is a notion, however, that is a tad alien to the 19th Century Royal Navy. Jack's beliefs are quickly put to the test when he becomes a midshipman and experiences the rigid hierarchy of a naval vessel-a hierarchy that must be maintained if everyone is to stay alive.
Frederick Marryat, The Pirate and the Three Cutters, Book Eight of Marryat Cycle. "The Pirate" is about two brothers-twins-who are separated in childhood. One becomes a pirate, the other a naval officer. Eventually the one renounces the pirate life, and meets up with his twin. The good news is that, together, they go off in search of the pirates. The bad news is that they find them. In "The Three Cutters" a nobleman attempts to assist a revenue boat in the apprehension of a smuggler. Instead, the smuggler commandeers the yacht, and assumes the yachtsman's identity. With that as a cover, can he now continue his smuggling mission? If so, what's he supposed to do about the woman he finds aboard the yacht?
Frederick Marryat, Snarlyyow, Book Nine of Marryat Cycle. The story takes place in 1699, during the reign of William III, and touches on Jacobite affairs following the attempt of Sir George Barclay to assassinate the King. The dog (Snarleyyow), which plays such a prominent role, belongs to a rascally lieutenant commanding a small vessel hunting for smugglers. The lieutenant's avarice gets him mixed up with the Jacobites. But the real hero of the story is the half-starved sailor Smallbones. Captain Vanslyperken tries vainly to kill him-while Smallbones tries to get even by attempting to kill the captain's hated dog, Snarleyyow. But, somehow, neither will be killed. There is great macabre farce here.
Frederick Marryat, The Phantom Ship, Book Ten of Marryat Cycle. Philip Vanderdecken, is a young sailor in search of his father. His father is the captain of the Phantom Ship and is condemned to sail for eternity after he made an unwise oath before killing a man. Philip wears a piece of the True Cross tied around his neck and, with it, he hopes to free his father from his bondage-if he can find him. This story combines great sea adventure, a dash of the supernatural, and even a chapter featuring a werewolf .
Frederick Marryat, Poor Jack, Book Eleven of Marryat Cycle. Thomas Saunders grew up struggling to survive as a mudlark-a ragged urchin who would scavenge the mud flats along the Thames river at low tide, looking for anything of value that could be re-sold. Despite this beginning, Saunders has a vision of somehow, someday, going from rags to riches by becoming a Thames river pilot.
Frederick Marryat, Masterman Ready, Book Twelve of Marryat Cycle. A family is en route to Australia by ship. The ship is caught in a storm and abandoned by the crew-leaving a lone family and an aging seaman (Masterman Ready) on board. The ship does not sink, however, but makes it to an uninhabited island. They make it to shore, only to run into a whole different set of problems trying to survive.
Frederick Marryat, Percival Keen, Book Thirteen of Marryat Cycle. Percival Keene is the bastard son of an upwardly mobile captain in the Royal Navy. In high-seas adventures the young officer is lost during a battle, thought dead, and then finds his way back though confrontations with pirates, storms at sea, and so forth. Keene is noble one moment, and mean-spirited the next. He shows unbelievable courage and integrity in one set of circumstances, but not in another. He is, to be sure, a low-life; but but he is an intriguing one.
Frederick Marryat, The Privateersman, Book Fourteen of Marryat Cycle. Written in 1846, The Privateersman was the last of Frederick Marryat's nautically oriented novels. Privateers were essentially legalized pirates. They functioned like the illegal variety; but they carried a document from their government authorizing them to prey on the merchant ships of a specific enemy country. The government got a cut, the ship's officers and crew got a cut, and the investors got a return on their money which allowed them to send the privateer out again.