Post Captain (novel)

From WikiPOBia

Revision as of 07:25, 12 November 2010 by Sadads (Talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Current revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

Post Captain is a 1972 historical naval novel by Patrick O'Brian. It is second in the Aubrey–Maturin series of stories set in the early-nineteenth century, concerning the adventures of Captain Jack Aubrey and naval surgeon Stephen Maturin. It has been described as Patrick O'Brian's tribute to Jane Austen with part of it set in the domestic English countryside and the interaction of families.


Plot introduction

For more details about the plot, which will contain spoilers, see Summary for Post Captain

The novel starts during the Peace of Amiens. Jack Aubrey sets up a bachelor household in a country district, becoming friendly with a neighbouring household with several marriageable daughters. When he falls into financial difficulty, he leaves England with his friend Stephen Maturin. When the Peace is ended, they escape from France and return to England. Aubrey pleads for any ship. After many tribulations and disagreements with Maturin and others, he is eventually successful in his career.

Characters in "Post Captain"

  • Jack Aubrey - Commander of the Polychrest and later appointed Captain of HMS Lively.
  • Stephen Maturin - ship's surgeon, friend to Jack and intelligence officer.
  • Sophie Williams - Jack's love interest
  • Mrs. Williams - Sophie's mother
  • Diana Villiers - Stephen's love interest, and one of Jack's mistresses
  • Lt. Parker - 1st Lieutenant of the Polychrest
  • Lt. Pullings - 2nd Lieutenant of the Polychrest
  • William Babbington – midshipman in Polychrest

Ships in Post Captain

The British
The French
  • Fanciulla
  • Bellone (Privateer)
The Spanish
  • Medea - frigate
  • Fama - frigate
  • Clara - frigate
  • Mercedes - frigate



Stephen, in presenting his radical position against the tyranny of the navy in a fit of rage, says that he would "certainly have joined the mutineers" had he been at the Spithead Mutiny. [1]


In a conversation with MacDonald, Stephen argues about the various qualities of the gaelic poet Ossian's writing and authenticity.[2] This references similar controversy which had arisen during the period about the true authorship of James Macpherson's translation of his epic cycle, and continues to be questioned today in literary circles. In this same conversation, MacDonald references the Roman legal principle "falsum in unam, falsum in omnibus," which translates to "false in one thing, fall in all things."[2]

Literary significance & criticism

"One of the finest seafaring novels of the Napoleonic wars." — R. W., Taranaki Herald (New Zealand), on Post Captain[3]
"Master and Commander raised almost dangerously high expectations, Post Captain triumphantly surpasses them. Mr. O'Brian is a master of his period, in which his characters are finely placed, while remaining three-dimensional, thoroughly human beings. This book sets him at the very top of his genre; he does not just have the chief qualifications of a first-class historical novelist, he has them all. The action scenes are superb; towards the end, far from being aware that one is reading what is, physically, a fairly long book, one notes with dismay that there is not much more to come....A brilliant book." — Mary Renault, on Post Captain[4]

Release details

  • 1972, UK, Collins Publishers ISBN 0002216574, Pub Date ? ? 1970, hardback (First edition)
  • 1972, USA, Lippincott ISBN 0006129137, Pub Date ? ? 1972, hardback
  • 1975, UK, Fontana ISBN 0006136664, Pub date 1 April 1975, paperback
  • 1990, USA, W. W. Norton ISBN 0393307069, Pub date ? November 1990, paperback
  • 1994, USA, W. W. Norton ISBN 0393037029, Pub date ? ? 1994, hardback
  • 2000, USA, Chivers, Windsor, Paragon ISBN 0754014231, Pub date 1 December 2000, hardback (large print)
  • 2001, USA, Chivers, Windsor, Paragon ISBN 0754023206, Pub date 1 September 2001, paperback (large print)
  • 1996, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0006499163, Pub date 7 October 1996, paperback
  • 1997, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0001053302, Pub date 21 April 1997, Audio book cassette (narrated by Robert Hardy)
  • 1998, UK, HarperCollins ISBN 0002216574, Pub Date 27 January 1998, hardback
  • 2001, USA, Recorded Books ISBN 1402502214, Pub date ? September 2001, Audio book cassette (narrated by Patrick Tull)
  • 2002, UK, Soundings ISBN 1842832611, Pub date ? September 2002, Audio book CD (narrated by Stephen Thorne)
  • 2004, UK, Blackstone ISBN 0786187034, Pub date ? January 2004, Audio book MP3 cassette (narrated by Robert Whitfield)

Sources, references, external links, quotations

  • Richard O'Neill (2003). Patrick O'Brian's Navy: The Illustrated Companion to Jack Aubrey's World. Running Press. ISBN 0762415401.
  • Dean King (2001). A Sea of Words: Lexicon and Companion for Patrick O'Brian's Seafaring Tales. Henry Holt. ISBN 0805066152.
  • Dean King (2001). Harbors and High Seas: Map Book and Geographical Guide to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels of Patrick O'Brian. Henry Holt. ISBN 0805066144.
  • Brian Lavery (2003). Jack Aubrey Commands: An Historical Companion to the Naval World of Patrick O'Brian. Conway Maritime. ISBN 0851779468.
  • Anne Chotzinoff Grossman, Lisa Grossman Thomas (2000). Lobscouse and Spotted Dog: Which Is a Gastronomic Companion to the Aubrey/Maturin Novels. W W Norton & Co Ltd. ISBN 0393320944.
  • David Miller (2003). The World of Jack Aubrey: Twelve-Pounders, Frigates, Cutlasses, and Insignia of His Majesty's Royal Navy. Running Press Book Publishers. ISBN 0762416521.
  • A.E. Cunningham (Editor) (1994). Patrick O'Brian: A Bibliography and Critical Appreciation. British Library Publishing Division. ISBN 0712310711.


  1. Post Captain 234 (Norton ed.)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Post Captain 268 (Norton ed.)
  3. Template:Cite web
  4. Template:Cite web
Personal tools