C.S. Forester Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
Childhood and Early Life
English novelist C.S. Forester was born Cecil Louis Troughton Smith in Cairo, Egypt on the 27 August 1899 to George Foster Smith and Sarah Medhurst Troughton. He was the youngest of their five children. Forester Snr. was an English school teacher who had opened a school in Egypt to give upper-class Egyptian boys an English education. When Forester was three, his parents separated, and his mother returned to England with her children. Forester Snr. remained in Egypt, seeing his children for one month a year in England.
C.S. Forester was a pupil at Alleyn’s School and Dulwich College, in South London before studying medicine at Guy’s Medical School in London. He did not apply himself to his medical studies and left without graduating.
Rise to Fame
During World War II (1914-1918) C.S. Forester was considered medically unfit for active duty. In the early 1920s, he began writing fiction, and his first novel was A Pawn Among Kings. Success came with the publication of Payment Deferred which was about a man hanged for a murder that he did not commit.
C.S. Forester was a prolific writer who went on to write numerous novels including The African Queen which was adapted for film and is today considered a film classic; Brown on Resolution, Death to the French, The Gun and The General. He went to Hollywood in the mid-1930s to work on a pirate film, but the project was abandoned when another studio released Captain Blood starring Errol Flynn.
On the return voyage home to England, C.S. Forester began writing the first book in the Hornblower series, The Happy Return (1937). Today, Forester is best remembered for the twelve novels in the Hornblower series. In 1951, three of the Hornblower novels were adapted for a film starring Gregory Peck; Forester was responsible for the screen adaptation. ITV did a series, Hornblower, based on the novels (1998-2003) with Ioan Grufford starring as the main character Horatio Hornblower.
When World War II (1939-1945) was on, C.S. Forester worked for the British government in Washington D.C. on propaganda material. During this time (1942) he met Roald Dahl who was working as a British Intelligence Officer and after hearing of Dahl’s experiences in the Royal Air Force suggested that he wrote them down and encouraged him to become a writer. Forester relocated to Berkeley, California and lived there for the rest of his working life.
Apart from his novels, Forester also published short stories and non-fiction. His non-fiction included Napoleon and his Court (1924), Josephine, Napoleon’s Empress (1925), Lord Nelson (1929), The Voyage of the Annie Marble (1929), The Adventures of John Wetherell (1953), The Naval War of 1912 (1957) and Hunting the Bismarck (1959).
Awards and Achievements
C.S. Forester's Hornblower books Flying Colours and A Ship of the Line were jointly awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (1938).
Diseases and Health
C.S. Forester became partially crippled in the early 1940s when he developed arteriosclerosis in his legs.
C.S. Forester's first wife was Kathleen Belcher whom he married in 1926. They had two sons, John, and George Forest before divorcing in 1945. He then married Dorothy Foster in 1947. Forester died of a stroke on the 2 April 1966 in Fullerton, California.