The Hornblower Companion, or Forester’s unique process of creative development


After reading the whole Hornblower series, I had to read the  The Hornblower Companion“>Hornblower Companion.  It is inspirational, specially for aspiring creative minds. The first half of the book described the specific research done for the different books in the series. Basically, this half contained a bunch of maps and annotations about the battles in detail.

The second half was the more interesting half, and it helped me understand the author, CS Forester’s writing method. One of the most interesting revelations was how he thought about Hornblower as a real person, and how the different novels were written out of chronological order because each book answers a question about how Hornblower’s character was shaped.  After reading this book, I learned that every person has a unique creative process, and that we shouldn’t question it or try to conform to other people’s ideas of how to do things. As long as you have a process, and it works for you, keep at it and hone it.  Forester had a method of reading passionately and fact-finding about naval history, and he ended up connecting all the bits and pieces throughout his life to create the narrative.  . Apparently, Forester never took notes, but had an internal process for crafting his stories. If you read the Hornblower books, you’ll appreciate how detailed his notes were and how empathetic he was to Hornblower.  I think the candidness of his approach is useful to me, as a creative artist. I have a process that is inspired by the people I meet, and I attempt to meet many different types of people and keep connected with them. Eventually,  I get to collaborate with that person, and the work is much stronger for that ethnological study. I don’t know other people with this method, but it works for me.

The movies are highly enjoyable as well.
This is the only set of DVDs that I return to. The details of life in the 1700s, the details on the naval battles, and the quirky social relationships are entertaining to anyone who likes historical fiction. Every adventure is delightful– from the grains of rice, the chides between Bush and Hornblower, the longing for his love, the beauty of the ships, to the naval battles– everything is just perfectly enjoyable. The hairstyles, the uniforms, the grungy bits– Even the way a boot lands on the step of a handsome carriage… ah, I must go watch it some more now.

Leaving a note to myself to watch these related DVDs sometime: