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Patrick O'Brian (1914–2000)

Author of Master and Commander

118+ Works 70,016 Members 942 Reviews 369 Favorited
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About the Author

Patrick O'Brian is the author of twenty volumes in the highly respected Aubrey/Maturin series of novels. (Publisher Provided) Patrick O'Brien was born in Ireland in 1914. His education included the Sorbonne. O'Brian has produced a variety of works, including biographies of Picasso and Sir Joseph show more Banks and translations of the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir, but he is best known for the creation of an unlikely pair of Napoleonic War-era heroes in the Aubrey-Maturin Series. British naval officer Jack Aubrey and Irish scholar and physician Stephen Maturin have been featured in more than a novels published in Great Britain (five of which have also appeared in America). He died on January 2, 2000. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

The principal author here is Patrick O'Brian famous for the Aubrey-Maturin novels.  The birth name of this author was Richard Patrick Russ. He changed his name by deed poll in August 1945 to Patrick O'Brian, under which name his books were published.


Works by Patrick O'Brian

Master and Commander (1969) — Author — 9,351 copies
Post Captain (1972) 4,813 copies
H.M.S. Surprise (1973) 4,186 copies
The Mauritius Command (1977) 3,663 copies
The Far Side of the World (1984) 3,499 copies
Desolation Island (1978) 3,374 copies
The Fortune of War (1979) 3,116 copies
The Surgeon's Mate (1980) 2,941 copies
The Ionian Mission (1981) 2,794 copies
Treason's Harbour (1983) 2,700 copies
The Reverse of the Medal (1986) 2,541 copies
The Wine-Dark Sea (1994) 2,498 copies
The Commodore (1994) — Author — 2,489 copies
The Letter of Marque (1988) 2,479 copies
Blue at the Mizzen (1999) 2,442 copies
The Hundred Days (1998) 2,417 copies
The Thirteen-Gun Salute (1989) 2,413 copies
The Nutmeg of Consolation (1991) 2,403 copies
Clarissa Oakes (1992) 2,361 copies
The Yellow Admiral (1996) — Author — 2,360 copies
The Golden Ocean (1956) 790 copies
The Unknown Shore (1995) 727 copies
Joseph Banks: A Life (1987) 307 copies
Testimonies (1952) 213 copies
Picasso: A Biography (1976) 156 copies
The Catalans: A Novel (1953) 112 copies
Richard Temple: A Novel (2005) 96 copies
Hussein: An Entertainment (1999) 94 copies
A Book of Voyages (2013) — Editor — 67 copies
Collected Short Stories (1994) 66 copies
The Mauritius Command [abridged] (1999) — Author — 10 copies
Strandsatt (1999) 8 copies
Fregattkapten (2000) 8 copies
Contra viento y marea (2012) 2 copies
Testimonies 1 copy
Purpurové moře (2023) 1 copy
Rüzgarin Süvarisi (2016) 1 copy
Los Cien DAs 1 copy
Kapitan (1999) 1 copy
Rub medaile (2018) 1 copy
Six Days (2004) 1 copy
Salwa honorowa (2015) 1 copy
Jonska misja (2009) 1 copy
Whispers 1 copy
Reaper (2002) 1 copy
Fra seilernes øy (2019) 1 copy

Associated Works

Papillon (1969) — Translator, some editions — 3,888 copies
The Woman Destroyed (1967) — Translator, some editions — 1,533 copies
A Very Easy Death (1964) — Translator, some editions — 1,069 copies
Banco: The Further Adventures of Papillion (1972) — Translator, some editions — 643 copies
The Coming of Age (1960) — Translator, some editions — 484 copies
Daily Life of the Aztecs (1961) — Translator, some editions — 439 copies
Daily Life in the Time of Jesus (1961) — Translator, some editions — 435 copies
Lobscouse and Spotted Dog (1997) — Foreword, some editions — 393 copies
All Said and Done (1972) — Translator, some editions — 388 copies
Murder & Other Acts of Literature (1997) — Contributor — 149 copies
Patrick O'Brian: Critical Essays and a Bibliography (1994) — Contributor — 95 copies
Rough Water: Stories of Survival from the Sea (1998) — Contributor — 89 copies
Simone de Beauvoir, a life of freedom (1981) — Translator, some editions — 35 copies
The Quicksand War: Prelude to Vietnam (1963) — Translator, some editions — 18 copies
A Feast of Stories (1996) — Contributor — 15 copies
Van Der Valk, Series 1-5 [1972-1992] — Screenwriter — 7 copies
Short Stories: The Thoroughly Modern Collection (2008) — Contributor — 5 copies
Thrilling Stories from the Past for Boys (1970) — Contributor — 2 copies
YOUNG WINTER'S TALES 4. (1973) — Contributor — 2 copies


19th century (1,087) 20th century (422) adventure (1,327) age of sail (1,075) Aubrey (564) Aubrey/Maturin (3,848) Aubrey/Maturin Series (457) British (571) British Navy (413) ebook (489) England (609) fiction (10,972) Folio Society (763) historical (2,148) historical fiction (7,841) historical novel (636) history (1,050) literature (685) maritime (875) military (665) Napoleonic (436) Napoleonic Wars (2,303) nautical (1,577) Nautical Fiction (980) naval (1,848) naval fiction (961) Naval History (450) Navy (758) novel (1,389) O'Brian (444) Patrick O'Brian (727) read (851) Royal Navy (761) sailing (842) sea (867) sea stories (519) seafaring (551) series (709) to-read (1,764) war (566)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
O'Brian, Patrick
Legal name
Russ, Richard Patrick (birth)
O'Brian, Patrick (changed 1945)
Other names
Russ, Patrick
Russ, R. P.
Date of death
Burial location
Nouveau Cimetière de Collioure, Collioure, Departement des Pyrénées-Orientales, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Country (for map)
England, UK
Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Place of death
Dublin, Ireland
Cause of death
heart attack
Places of residence
Chalfont St. Peter, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Collioure, France
Cwm Croesor, Wales, UK
Jones, Elizabeth (first wife)
Tolstoy, Mary (second wife)
Tolstoy, Nikolai (stepson)
Awards and honors
The Heywood Hill Literary Prize (1995)
Commander, Order of the British Empire (1997)
Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Trinity College Dublin (1997)
Short biography
Patrick O'Brian was known for being a prolific English novelist, biographer, and translator. He was best known for his Aubrey-Maturin novels set in the period of the Napoleonic Wars. The novels centered on the characters of Jack Aubrey, an officer in the Royal Navy, and his friend the physician, natural philosopher and intelligence agent Stephen Maturin. Meticulously researched, this twenty-volume series garnered enthusiastic critical reviews and a wide and fervent readership. The 21st unfinished novel of this series was published posthumously. After having an American publisher, he received notoriety, selling millions of books. Born Richard Patrick Russ, he published two books and several short stories under his birthname before changing his name after World War II. In 1949 he and his second wife moved to France. In addition, O'Brian authored biographies of Pablo Picasso and Sir Joseph Banks. His translations from French into English included Henri Charrière's "Papillion," Jean LaCouture's biography "Charles De Gaulle," and works of Simone de Beauvoir. In 1995 at age 80, he received his first award, the Heywood Hill Literary Prize for his lifetime literary contributions. In 1997 he received the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and an honorary doctorate degree from Trinity College.
Disambiguation notice
The principal author here is Patrick O'Brian famous for the Aubrey-Maturin novels.  The birth name of this author was Richard Patrick Russ. He changed his name by deed poll in August 1945 to Patrick O'Brian, under which name his books were published.



Ampersand Studio - Master and Commander in Fine Press Forum (October 2023)
Phantom duplicate ISBN in Bug Collectors (June 2021)
New pair of Aubrey - Maturin due in Folio Society Devotees (August 2011)
***Group Read: H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian in 75 Books Challenge for 2011 (April 2011)
Folio Society Aubrey/Maturin Series in HMS Surprise (July 2010)


I found many things to love about this novel, and other things that tested my patience.

O'Brian's erudition shines throughout the story, not in a pedantic manner but creating a sense of credibility and immersion that I rarely see in historical fiction. These characters feel human, with their virtues and foibles, but also they talk and think as people from their time, rather than modern people somehow transported back in time. There's also depth to them, at least to the main characters.

The relationship and friendship between the two main characters is, of course, the heart of the story. Captain Jack Aubrey and physician and naturalist Stephen Maturin. Does this friendship ring true? If this were a romance we might say that Aubrey and Maturin have too little in common. Maturin is much more learned (except in naval matters), intelligent and sensitive. Aubrey is an excellent seaman, vigorous and with lust for life, but he's not Maturin's equal intellectually. Aubrey is Watson to Maturin's Holmes, although in this case Watson is the leader. Can such a friendship be fulfilling for Maturin? Perhaps it can, because sometimes people have chemistry, no matter how little in common they may have. O'Brian handles this skilfully, never telling us how it is between these two, but allowing us to see it, in the time they spend together, in the conversations and the silences they share.

The writing style is readable, but the vocabulary is challenging. The writer drowns us with naval terms, and to be honest, it sometimes felt like it was too much, to the point that it will be a deal-breaker for some readers. You have to allow it to flow around you and enjoy the immersion, without trying to understand every word. You can sense that these characters would have probably talked this way, but it is not really necessary for us to learn the name of every sail and every single naval term. Even without understanding all the words, you always get the gist of what is happening, and the book rewards your effort and patience.

The plot is rather episodic. We follow the Sophie and her crew in their missions, and they might be escorting a trading convoy or harassing Spanish and French merchant ships. There's plenty of action, but it's not all part of a single, clear-cut mission. The kind of action we see will be familiar for readers of C. S. Forester's Horation Hornblower series, and other naval stories in that style. One thing that bothers me about this kind of action is that you have to show your hero overcoming adverse odds, and that means defeating stronger ships and regularly surprising the enemy. But to do that your enemy needs to be less competent. I have seen that in Horation Hornblower and also here. All the tricks are from our hero and the enemy always falls for them, because it's how these things go. Not that the hero always wins, because sometimes the odds will be too overwhelming, but the opponents definitely are dumber. These exploits are inspired by Thomas Cochrane, who achieved some victories of this kind in real life, so it's not completely unbelievable, but when you read many books like this it gets old.

If you can get past the vocabulary, it is a well-written story. I enjoyed the time we spend on land or the daily life at sea with these characters as much or more than the action. I particularly appreciated the way the point of view of both main characters complemented.
… (more)
jcm790 | 216 other reviews | May 26, 2024 |
Just a bit slow because too much on land rather than sea.
Abcdarian | 67 other reviews | May 18, 2024 |
Clarissa Oakes, polizón a bordo
Patrick O’Brian
Publicado: 1992 | 251 páginas
Novela Aventuras Bélico
Serie: Aubrey y Maturin #15

A bordo de la más mítica de las embarcaciones que ha dado la literatura moderna, la "Surprise", Aubrey y Maturin abandonan las costas australianas en un momento en que la guerra entre británicos y franceses se ha suspendido. Sin embargo, eso no significa que haya llegado la paz, y los servicios secretos aprovechas la relativa calma para recabar la mayor información posible. Por su parte, Jack Aubrey teme por la lealtad de sus hombres cuando empieza a observar extraños comportamientos, pero sus temores no está justificados, pues lo que provoca el revuelo es la presencia de una mujer a bordo. La mejor novela sobre el funcionamiento de los servicios secretos británicos en un lugar remoto.… (more)
libreriarofer | 23 other reviews | May 16, 2024 |
Trece salvas de honor
Patrick O’Brian
Publicado: 1989 | 293 páginas
Novela Aventuras Bélico
Serie: Aubrey y Maturin #13

En esta novela el lector es trasladado a un escenario poco conocido de las luchas napoleónicas, el Mar de la China, y a la pugna que allí se libró entre los servicios de espionaje francés y británico. Consecuentemente, buena parte del protagonismo de la novela recae en Stephen Maturin, que nos muestra los métodos empleados para conseguir sus objetivos estratégicos (básicamente el soborno). Al mismo tiempo, el descubrimiento de una fauna poco estudiada en Europa en esa época y los avances en la cartografía de esa zona añaden a la trama un interés adicional.… (more)
libreriarofer | 25 other reviews | May 16, 2024 |



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Associated Authors

Max Hastings Introduction
William Waldegrave Introduction, Contributor, Foreword
Patrick Tull Narrator
Simon Vance Narrator
Geoff Hunt Cover artist
Paola Merla Translator
Richard Brown Narrator, Narrator
Carla Wiberg Translator
Ric Jerrom Narrator
Andrea Kann Translator
David Case Narrator
Stefan Andersson Illustrator
Brian Lavery Afterword, Contributor
Matthias Jendis Translator
Miguel Antón Translator
Lennart Olofsson Translator
Tim Pigott-Smith Reader, Narrator
Leif Dahlgren Translator
John Lee Narrator
Charlton Heston Contributor
Inge Kok Translator
Jana Šimonová Translator
N. A. M. Rodger Afterword
Richard F. Snow Afterword
Robert Hardy Narrator, Narrator


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