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Nautical Story Writer : The Life and Works of Matthew Henry Barker, the Old Sailor (Paperback) (Paul N.
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The fictional nautical story was extremely popular in the period stretching from the mid 1820s to about 1850. The best known writer in this field was undoubtedly Frederick Marryat, but the stories of Matthew Henry Barker (1790?1846), ?The Old Sailor’, rivalled those of his contemporary in popularity. Both authors are in the first rank of writers of nautical fiction, but it is generally acknowledged that Barker’s descriptions of the man-of-war’s man, the forecastle Jack Tar, are without equal. Although several biographies of Marryat have been published, very little relating to Barker’s life and works is readily available. A Nautical Story Writer sets out the life and works of Barker, a journalist, novelist and Whig. Part One provides a detailed biography of his life, sea service, adventures and engagement with friends and politicians. Part Two details his published works, alerting to material erroneously credited to the author. Paul Marshall’s book is based, in part, on information collected from institutions in the UK and USA. An additional primary source has been a substantial archive of material related to the Barker family, which consists of correspondence between Barker and his friends and business associates (e.g. William Jerdan, Frederic Shoberl, Effingham Wilson, Edward Duncan), along with a variety of family documents. Although Barker is an author from the classic period, his written observations will be of interest to readers of the Horatio Hornblower novels of C. S. Forester, and the Aubrey-Maturin series of Patrick O’Brian. The extensive bibliographic information provided makes this work an essential acquisition for university libraries and antiquarian booksellers.