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Horatio Hornblower Books In Order

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Publication Order of Horatio Hornblower Books

The Happy Return / Beat to Quarters (1937)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ship of the Line (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
Flying Colours (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Commodore / Commodore Hornblower (1945)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lord Hornblower (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower (1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lieutenant Hornblower (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hornblower and the Atropos (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies / Hornblower in the West Indies (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hornblower and the Hotspur (1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hornblower During the Crisis / Hornblower and the Crisis (1967)Description / Buy at Amazon

Chronological Order of Horatio Hornblower Books

Mr. Midshipman Hornblower(1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lieutenant Hornblower(1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hornblower and the Hotspur(1962)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hornblower During the Crisis / Hornblower and the Crisis(1967)Description / Buy at Amazon
Hornblower and the Atropos(1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Happy Return / Beat to Quarters(1937)Description / Buy at Amazon
Ship of the Line(1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
Flying Colours(1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Commodore / Commodore Hornblower(1945)Description / Buy at Amazon
Lord Hornblower(1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies / Hornblower in the West Indies(1957)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Horatio Hornblower Collections

Captain Hornblower R.N. (1965)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Horatio Hornblower Non-Fiction Books

The Hornblower Companion (1964)Description / Buy at Amazon

Horatio Hornblower is a protagonist character who poses as a navy officer in C .S. Forester’s Napoleonic Wars era series of novels. The character is later made a subject on various movies, television and radio programs.

The Hornblower’s original tales begun in early 1937’s novel ‘The Happy Return’ where he featured as a junior navy captain who is on a secret-independent mission to Central America, though in his earlier life he is portrayed as a poor inexperienced seasick midshipman. As the Napoleonic wars continue, Horatio Hornblower steadily gets some promotions as a result of his daring courage and skills, despite his state of poverty and lack of influential friends to help him in his career. Eventually, after he survives various dangerous adventures and explorations of the different locations, he his further promoted to the top of his professional pinnacle, and made the Fleet’s admiral.

Several big names in America and other parts of the world love Horatio Hornblower series of books including Winston Churchill and Ernest Hemingway. Winston Churchill admitted finding Hornblower admirable while Ernest Hemingway literally recommended Forester’s work to everyone literate he knew.


There existed a lot of similarities between real naval officers and Hornblower character during the time of writing these series of books. Some of the close and easily notable likeness includes those of Admiral Lord Nelson, Jeremiah Coughlin, Lord Cochrane, Sir William Hoste, and Sir James Gordon among many others. The documented actions of these royal navies provided enough reference points for Hornblower’s fiction adventures.

The character in William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” inspired the name “Horatio”, because of its close association with popular contemporary figures such as Lord Nelson.

C.S. Forester was inspired originally by a very old copy of naval chronicle that described the real and effective dates of the Ghent Treaty. Because of the long time duration that was used to pass a peace communication from one region of the world to another, it was a common phenomenon for two countries to still continue fighting one another months after a peace treaty has been signed on the other end of warring nations. This put a lot of “man alone” struggle on captains who led these wars while they are far away from home. However, Forester was very cautious about his writings so that he does not entangle them with real life history in the world. He put the Hornblower to be off on another mission immediately after a Napoleonic war is over.

Characteristics of Hornblower

Hornblower’s character in C.S. Forester’s series is described as a lonely and unhappy seaman who is very courageous, skilled and intelligent. However, he is troubled by his introspection, intense reserve and self doubt. Despite his many personal feats of extraordinary cunning and skill, he only remembers his previous fears when realizing his achievements and constantly ignores his fellow sailors’ admirations and respect. He always regards himself as a dishonest, coward, and disloyal person, and he never gave credit to his abilities to think rapidly, persevere or cut into the core of matters.

His hard work, sense of duty and a drive to be successful make his imagined negative attitudes undetectable by anyone. With his introspective character, he is obsessed with fear of petty failures that later help him reinforce his self image. This introvert nature isolated him from all types of people around him including his wives and his best friend William Bush; who never fully understood him. He is normally guided by everyone around him unless he is discharging his office duties as a king’s officer where he is very decisive and clear.

Hornblower possesses a sense of duty that is hyper-developed though he can set it aside sometimes. A good example is in the novel ‘Hornblower and the Hotspur’, where he planned for the escape of a steward who was sentenced to hanging for striking a senior officer. Hornblower’s philosophically opposed to capital punishment and flogging and it pains him so much to impose such kind of punishments when he is forced to do so during war circumstances.

Hornblower suffers from seasickness, which started when he began his voyages. However, he was once very sick and at a roadstead of Spithead when he worked as a midshipman and got an embarrassing experience that haunts him throughout his modern career. He is deaf and finds any music irritation and incomprehensible. This can be proved when he is unable to recognize the national anthem of British in a scene in a book series called ‘Hotspur’.

He is a veracious reader who can discourse on both classical and contemporary literatures. His unique mathematical skills make him a talented whist player and an adept navigator. During his period of naval inactivity, he uses his whist skill to supplement his savings.

Fictional Biography

Hornblower’s youth

Hornblower is a son of a doctor born in Kent. He has no influential connection or any inherited wealth to help him advance in his naval career. According to ‘The Happy Return’, that is a first novel as per the publications, Hornblower was born 11th June 1771 and his given the age of 37 years old. The novel events take place in 1808 which was also a period of war between Great Britain and Spain. However, Forester made Hornblower a hero at a young age of 5 years when he wrote his sixth novel ‘Mr. Midshipman Hornblower’, making his birthday to be 4th July, 1776; which was also the date the United States declared her independence. C. S Forester’s adjustment, made Hornblower to begin his career during the war times. He is a classical education student and by the time he was joining the Royal Navy at seventeen years, he had a good command of both Latin and Greek languages. He was later tutored on French by an inexperienced Frenchman and had a great skill in mathematics that helped him during his career as a navigator.

Hornblower’s early career

Hornblower exploited varied job opportunities at an early age. He joined navy as a Midshipman at the Royal Navy where he took care of fire ships that unfortunately interrupted his first examination that was suppose to promote him to lieutenant. He was late captured while on acting capacity as a lieutenant when he blundered into a Spanish fleet. He was then imprisoned in Ferrol Spain, where he improved on his command of Spanish language that helped him in his future career around Spain. He was further released and confirmed as a lieutenant due to his skill and daring rescue of Spanish sailors from a ship wreck in an extremely bad weather.

While in the capacity of a junior lieutenant, he acted under the supervision of Captain Sawyer, who later died as a result of Paranoid Schizophrenia. This is the time when his friendship with his senior officer William Bush started to develop. When he returned to England, he became demobilized after taking part in the peace of Amiens. This caused him great financial distress and he resorted to making his living as a gambler.


Horatio Hornblower is a protagonist character in a series of fiction books that were created and developed by C.S. Forester. The books have also appeared on various films, radio and Television series such as in the 1951 film named ‘Captain Horatio Hornblower’, and the A& E and ITV television series. The book series has also been featured in a1952 radio series that was played by Michael Redgrave as Hornblower. This character’s series of books by C.S. Forester are still highly read, reffered to and translated to different languages.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Horatio Hornblower

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