This is Nicholas Monsarrat's final masterpiece, an epic tale of the sea and seafaring from the sixteenth century to near the end of the twentieth. Told from the point of view of Mathew Lawe, a young Devon sailor who is cursed after a spectacular act of cowardice to wander 'the wild waters till all the seas run dry', it is historical fiction but beset by real events. Monsarrat follows the great captains and naval adventurers from the Artic to the South Pacific. Lawe represents the spirit of maritime exploration and fortitude; his life is the thread stringing together a long history of nautical adventure.
He finds himself mixed up with Drake and the Armada; sailing with Hudson in search of the North-West passage; a buccaneer under Sir Henry Morgan in the Caribbean; assisting Samuel Pepys with his responsibilities as Secretary to the Navy; at the side of Captain Cook as he transports General Wolf to the storming of Quebec, and then on to his death in the Pacific; serving in Nelson's household and then to the Nile, Naples and Trafalgar; working on a slaver from Liverpool to the Caribbean; press-ganged aboard the Shannon just before her duel with the American Chesapeake, exploring the Artic with Sir John Franklin; fighting in both world wars, including the action at Zebrugge and 'D' Day; before a final test with a tanker catching fire after the opening of the St.Lawrence Seaway - and much more besides! Under sail and steam, as Mathew's eternal existence progresses, the action-packed novel is both highly entertaining and instructive and has been widely acclaimed as a masterpiece. Some fourteen true maps, along with other diagrams, are included, and what was originally two volumes is supplied as one. Note: Nicholas Monsarrat died before Book II was finished.
Anne Monsarrat completed the remainder of the story in Nicholas's own words, partly from some working notes he left and partly from his original synopsis of The Master Mariner Book II. Both are included here.
Nicholas Monsarrat was born in Liverpool and educated at Cambridge University, where he studied law. His career as a solicitor encountered a swift end when he decided to leave Liverpool for London, with a half-finished manuscript under his arm and only forty pounds in his pocket. His first book to attract attention was the largely autobiographical 'This is the Schoolroom', which was concerned with the turbulent thirties, and a student at Cambridge who goes off to fight against the fascists in Spain only to discover that life itself is the real schoolroom. During World War II he joined the Royal Navy and served in corvettes. His war experiences provided the framework for the novel 'HMS Marlborough will enter Harbour', which is one of his best known books, along with 'The Cruel Sea'. The latter was made into a classic film starring Jack Hawkins. Established as a top name writer, Monsarrat's career concluded with 'The Master Mariner', a historical novel of epic proportions the final part of which was both finished (using his notes) and published posthumously. Well known for his concise story telling and tense narrative on a wide range of subjects, although nonetheless famous for those connected with the sea and war, he became one of the most successful novelists of the twentieth century, whose rich and varied collection bears the hallmarks of a truly gifted writer. The Daily Telegraph summed him up thus: 'A professional who gives us our money's worth. The entertainment value is high'.