A Gunroom Guide to

Patrick O'Brian Web Resources

compiled by Gibbons Burke

 A list of resources on the World Wide Web relating to author Patrick O'Brian, his novels, and life in the Royal Navy during the Age of Sail.


Patrick O'Brian Symposium
Sunday, May 4, 2003
Seamen's Inne Restaurant & Pub at Mystic Seaport

[Seaport Web Site][Symposium Information][Speaker Schedule (PDF)]

In Memoriam: Patrick O'Brian

12 December 1914 - 2 January 2000

 Patrick O'Brian passed away in a Dublin hotel room on 2 January 2000 at the age of 85. His body was returned to his home in the village of Collioure, France, to be buried in a cemetary plot next to his late wife Mary. "Searching for POB" is Jim Klein's interesting account of a visit to Collioure with his wife Zelda, and their quest to pay respects at O'Brian's grave site.

Please imagine that the Gunroom burgee at the head of this page has been lowered on its halyard to half-mast. Though a great writer who has given hours upon days upon weeks of reading pleasure to myriad readers has died, he has secured for himself immortality through his great art, which will live on well beyond his brief tenure in this world.

...And I will not say I cried at his death, but I will not say I did not.
[David Mamet, "The Humble Genre Novel, Sometimes Full of Genius", The New York Times, 17 January 2000]

During O'Brian's New York book tour for Blue at the Mizzen, the recently-published twentieth Aubrey-Maturin novel, I was able to attend his conversation with Walter Cronkite at the New York Public Library. He mentioned he had completed the third chapter of the twenty-first - a surprise because he had previously announced that he would complete the series at twenty. While it is unlikely he was able to complete number twenty-one, there are many who hope it will be published unfinished.

O'Brian wrote a short piece, "Full Nelson:Outmanned and outgunned, the British flummoxed the French", included in the first of the New York Times Magazine's six millennium issues. It appeared among a page of "The Best" written by a score of other notable writers. O'Brian's department is "Best Naval Battle." It is, perhaps, the last thing he published while alive.

Patrick O'Brian's birth date was provided by Dean King, author of several companion works to the Aubrey-Maturin canon including A Sea of Words, the essential glossary, Harbors and High Seas, a geographical companion, and Every Man Will Do His Duty, a collection of contemporary accounts by participants in the events that surrounded the novels. "I had to travel to Ireland to find it out, and even then, of course, I couldn't find it because his birth wasn't registered there," he said. Dean has written the first O'Brian biography - Patrick O'Brian: A Life Revealed published by Henry Holt. He is widely quoted in the obituaries and accounts listed below. Dean is interviewed in the current edition of a web-zine called "The Idler" in which he discusses O'Brian's death, the biography, the significance of O'Brian's work, and how he followed a wispy trail of clues to discover O'Brian's true identity.


 See H.M.S. Surprise in Mourning, a tribute in pen, ink, and words by Geoff Hunt the marine artist who painted the book covers for O'Brian's novels of the sea.

 Kenneth Ringle, who coined the phrase "the best writer you never heard of", has written a personal memoir, "Appreciation" in which he recounts how H.M.S Surprise tender Ringle, a Baltimore clipper, got her name; The Washington Post, 8 January

 Read "O'Brian Rules the Waves", by George Will,The Washington Post, 13 January

 Richard Snow, whose critical appreciation in 1991 of O'Brian's work "An Author I'd Walk the Plank For" launched a million readers, weighs in with "How a Nautical Novelist Conquered America", a Commentary in The Wall Street Journal., 13 January (requires subscription)


Below are links to newspaper and radio accounts of O'Brian's passing...


W. W. Norton Resources

If you have any suggestions for web resources that should be listed here, please send them to gibbonsb@prismnet.com.

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Created 7 January 1997 - Last updated 8 April 2002
© Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Gibbons Burke