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Book Review "Children of the New Forest" by Captain Fredrick Marryat, a Work of Historical Fiction for Children

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MG, an air warrior, a health freak, and Sportsman with wide experience.


Fredrick Marryat

Fredrick Marryat was a British Naval Officer who took to writing books. He wrote prodigiously and left a fond image of a more than average writer. His book Children of the New Forrest is an engaging children’s story that has outlived Fredrick Marryat who died in 1848. The book was published in 1847 and can be termed as historical fiction for children. He is the first writer in this genre of books.

Fredrick was born in 1792 and died comparatively young at the age of 56 in 1848. Marryat enlisted with the navy at the age of 14 and served with distinction in many parts of the world before retiring in 1830 with a captain’s rank. While in the navy he married Catherine Shairp in 1819. By all accounts, it was a happy marriage. He resigned his commission in 1830 and took to full-time writing.

He had a large family with 4 sons and 7 daughters. Three of his daughters starting with Florence(1833-99) who became a prolific novelist and his biographer and Emilia (!835-75) his 3rd daughter was a writer of moralist adventure novels in her father's vein. A third daughter Augusta (1828-99)was also a writer of adventure fiction and wrote novels. His only surviving son Francis Samuel Marryat completed his novel The Little Savage. He, unfortunately, had a short life and died in 1856. He was born in 1829.

Marryat resigned his commission in November 1830 and take up full-time writing. He wrote many books but his Children of the New Forrest is his most lasting work and was published in 1847. the story is set in the countryside round the village of Sway, Hampshire.


The Children of New Forrest: Plot

Fredrick weaves an engaging story of the time a civil war raged in England when King Charles was deposed and there was a fight on between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers. This war started in 1647. Colonel Beverley, a father of four children is an officer who is killed at the Battle of Naseby. He was fighting on the side of King Charles. The tale centers around his four children The house where they stay is burned down, but the children escape with the help of an aged forester, Jacob Armitage. The four children are Edward, Humphrey, Alice, and Edith

The Four Children

Fredrick paints an excellent picture of the 4 children who adjust to their new environs and also start living like peasants. There are adventures galore as the Children move from one adventure to another finally recovering their lost heritage.

The Children of the New Forrest is a thrilling book and it will appeal to the young and old alike. Much of the appeal is because of the characters created by Marryat. His denouement of four orphans who have to live like common children forgetting about their aristocratic heritage appeals to all readers.

Marryat creates 2 elder brothers and 2 sisters with Edward the eldest who has to shoulder all the responsibility. There is a whiff of romance, as well, as Edward, meets up with the new intendent (administrative official)and his daughter Patience. His feelings come to the fore and later he realizes that Patience also loves him. Edward is one of the most lovable characters created in English fiction for children.

The novel has enough going in it to enthrall children and keep elders bound to the book. The prose is simple and the book is eminently readable. If a judgment is to be passed on a book then its longevity in the print form is an indication. It is here that the book scores as it has been continuously in print since 1847. The BBC adapted this novel four times for television, with the last adaption being in 1998. The novel can also be downloaded free as an e-book from the net.

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Historical fiction

The book is an excellent work of historical fiction, though it cannot be quoted as an authority of that period. It should be read like a lovely historical tale of that period. It is a book that has appealed to people including children from all walks of life for over 150 years.

Books by Fredrick Marryat

Fredrick wrote prodigiously. His works are cataloged below.

  • The Naval Officer, or Scenes in the Life and Adventures of Frank Midway (1829)
  • The Kings Own (1830)
  • Newton Forster or The Merchant Service (1832)
  • Peter Simple (1834)
  • Jacob Faithful (1834)
  • The Pacha of Many Tales (1835)
  • Mr. Midshipman Easy (1836)
  • Japhet in Search of a Father (1836)
  • The Pirate (1836)
  • The Three Cutters (1836)
  • Snarleyyow or the Dog Friend (1837)
  • Rattlin the Reefer (with Edward Howard) (1838)
  • The Phantom Ship (1839)
  • Diary in America (1839)
  • Olla Podrida (1840)
  • Poor Jack (1840)
  • Masterman Ready or Wreck of the Pacific (1841)
  • Joseph Rushbrook or the Poacher (1841)
  • Percival Keene (1842)
  • Monsieur Violet (1843)
  • Settlers in Canada (1844)
  • The Mission or Scenes in Africa (1845)
  • The Privateersman or One Hundred Years Ago (1846)
  • The Children of the New Forest (1847)
  • The Little Savage (posthumous, 1848)Completed by his son


Many modern critics feel that Marryat’s books were the result of some careless writing, but a vast majority feel he wrote excellent books about naval life and ships.

He is credited as the first writer who wrote a story of the female Werewolf in The White Wolf of the Hartz Mountains.

Marryat's novels are representative of the period he lived in and mirror his 25 years time he spent at sea. Marryat has a string of admirers that include Mark Twain, Joseph Conrad, and Earnest Hemingway.

His nautical novels, served as models for later works by CS Forester and Patrick O' Brian. A matter of controversy is his book published in 1839 titled DIary in America. The book is a travelogue and reflects his criticisms of American culture and society. The book incensed many in America and there were acts of violence, including the burning of the book and of Marryat's effigy in public.

Despite all this, Frederick Marryat has a niche of his own in English literature.


MG Singh (author) from UAE on May 18, 2021:

Tom, nice you mentioned Nicholas Monserrat. He was also a navy officer who died in 1979 and famous for novels.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on May 18, 2021:

Thanks, Tom, Douglas Reeman died aged 97 in 2017 and his books sold 68 million copies. I wish I could emulate him.

tom on May 18, 2021:

lt cdr monsarrat and lt douglas reeman

MG Singh (author) from UAE on May 17, 2021:

Thanks, Tom, both CS Forrester and Patrick O'Brien took their inspiration from Marryat. I have read a few books of Douglass Reeman, all connected with Navy and naval warfare. He published 68 novels.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on May 17, 2021:

Thanks for commenting Tom, if I remember correctly Nicholas Monsarrat was a naval officer and wrote books on the sea. I must read some of his books.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on December 24, 2013:

I am so glad you read and commented suzettenaples

MG Singh (author) from UAE on December 24, 2013:

Its nice of you to have appreciated the post Wiccan Sage

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on December 24, 2013:

Wonderful review of this book. I have never heard of this children's author or his many books. He certainly was a prolific writer! I love historical fiction for young people as it does teach them about a period of time while at the same time is a creative narrative for them to read. I am so glad to be introduced to this author and will have to read some of his books. Thanks for the book audio - it is a great start!

Mackenzie Sage Wright on December 24, 2013:

Sounds good. I love historical fiction, I will have to check it out. Maybe we can use it for homeschooling. Great hub.

MG Singh (author) from UAE on December 23, 2013:

Thank you billy for commenting

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 23, 2013:

Thank you for the book review. I love historical fiction and I will recommend this one to some friends who have small children.

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