Robert M. Ballantyne

Biografie şi Bibliografie

R. M. Ballantyne (24 April 1825 – 8 February 1894) was a Scottish juvenile fiction writer.

Born Robert Michael Ballantyne in Edinburgh, he was part of a famous family of printers and publishers. At the age of 16 he went to Canada and was six years in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. He returned to Scotland in 1847, and published his first book the following year, Hudson's Bay: or, Life in the Wilds of North America. For some time he was employed by Messrs Constable, the publishers, but in 1856 he gave up business for the profession of literature, and began the series of adventure stories for the young with which his name is popularly associated.

The Young Fur-Traders (1856), The Coral Island (1857), The World of Ice (1859), Ungava: a Tale of Eskimo Land (1857), The Dog Crusoe (1860), The Lighthouse (1865), Deep Down (1868), The Pirate City (1874), Erling the Bold (1869), The Settler and the Savage (1877), and other books, to the number of upwards of a hundred, followed in regular succession, his rule being in every case to write as far as possible from personal knowledge of the scenes he described.

Ballantyne was also an accomplished artist, and exhibited some of his water-colours at the Royal Scottish Academy. He lived in later years at Harrow, and died in Rome, Italy, where he had gone to attempt to shake off the results of overwork. He wrote a volume of Personal Reminiscences of Book Making (1893).
“     "It is seldom that one meets a man who has not, in his youth, read at least one of Ballantyne's adventure tales. To most of the Fathers and Grandfathers of today, there must still cling around the name of this nineteenth-century author the golden fragrance of the coral islands of their youth..."     ”

When Eric Quayle, author of Ballantyne the Brave, penned these words in 1967, the works of R.M. Ballantyne were still well known. Today this is much less the case.

Born into a family of literature, Robert was the son of newspaper editor and printer Sandy Ballantyne. He was also the nephew of James Ballantyne the printer for Scotland's most famous literary author, Sir Walter Scott. Robert grew up in and around the home of Scott, and one can only imagine the influence this relationship had on the future author.

Some bad financial investments made by Scott and Sandy Ballantyne would cause the family's ruin and Ballantyne's life would be changed forever.


From the age of 16 to 22, Robert was hired to work in Canada by the Hudson's Bay Company. There he would trade with the local Indians and trappers in some of the most remote regions described as "the wilds of Canada". He would later base his book Snowflakes and Sunbeams on his adventures.

His longing for family and home impressed him to start writing letters to his mother. This was the beginning of a long love of writing. Ballantyne would later recall in his Personal Reminiscences of Book Making, "To this long-letter writing I attribute whatever small amount of facility in composition I may have acquired."

In 1847 he returned to Scotland to find out that his father was dead. The news was devastating, but he would press on, and in the year 1857 he published his first great work, The Coral Island. Nevertheless, because of one mistake he had made in The Coral Island, in which he gave an incorrect thickness of coconut shells, Ballantyne would travel all over the world to gain first-hand knowledge of his subject matter and to research the backgrounds of his stories. For example, he served for a while as a London fireman while researching Fighting the Flames. For his great book Deep Down he spent time with the tin miners of Cornwall.


    * The Hudson's Bay Company (1848)
    * The Young Fur Traders (1856)
    * Mister Fox. A Children's Nursery Rhyme (1856)
    * The Coral Island (1857)
    * Ungava (1858)
    * Martin Rattler (1858)
    * Handbook to the new Goldfields (1858)
    * The Dog Crusoe and his Master (1860)
    * The World of Ice (1860)
    * The Gorilla Hunters(1861)
    * The Golden Dream (1861)
    * The Red Eric (1861)
    * Away in the Wilderness (1863)
    * Fighting the Whales (1863)
    * The Wild Man of the West (1863)
    * Man on the Ocean (1863)
    * Fast in the Ice (1863)
    * Gascoyne (1864)
    * The Lifeboat (1864)
    * Chasing the Sun (1864)
    * Freaks on the Fells (1864)
    * The Lighthouse (1865)
    * Fighting The Flames (1867)
    * Silver Lake (1867)
    * Deep Down (1868)
    * Shifting Winds (1868)
    * Hunting the Lions (1869)
    * Over the Rocky Mountains (1869)
    * Saved by the Lifeboat (1869)
    * Erling the Bold (1869)
    * The Battle and the Breeze (1869)
    * Up in the Clouds (1869)
    * The Cannibal Islands (1869)
    * Lost in the Forest (1869)
    * Digging for Gold (1869)
    * Sunk at Sea (1869)
    * The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands (1870)
    * The Iron Horse (1879)
    * The Norsemen in the West (1872)
    * The Pioneers (1872)
    * Black Ivory (1873)
    * Life in the Red Brigade (1873)
    * Fort Desolation (1873)
    * The Ocean and its Wonders (1874)
    * The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast (1874)
    * The Story of the Rock (1875)
    * Rivers of Ice (1875)
    * Under the Waves (1876)
    * The Settler and the Savage (1877)
    * In the Track of the Troops (1878)
    * Jarwin and Cuffy (1878)
    * Philosopher Jack (1879)
    * Six Months at the Cape (1879)
    * Post Haste (1880)
    * The Lonely Island (1880)
    * The Red Man's Revenge (1880)
    * My Doggie and I (1881)
    * The Life of a Ship (1882)
    * The Kitten Pilgrims (1882)
    * The Giant of the North (1882)
    * The Madman and the Pirate (1883)
    * Battles with the Sea (1883)
    * The Battery and the Boiler (1883)
    * The Thorogood Family (1883)
    * The Young Trawler (1884)
    * Dusty Diamonds, Cut and Polished (1884)
    * Twice Bought (1885)
    * The Island Queen (1885)
    * The Rover of the Andes (1885)
    * The Prairie Chief (1886)
    * The Lively Poll (1886)
    * Red Rooney (1886)
    * The Big Otter (1887)
    * The Fugitives (1887)
    * Blue Lights (1888)
    * The Middy and the Moors (1888)
    * The Eagle Cliff (1889)
    * The Crew of the Water Wagtail (1889)
    * Blown to Bits (1889)
    * The Garret and the Garden (1890)
    * Jeff Benson (1890)
    * Charlie to the Rescue (1890)
    * The Coxswain's Bride (1891)
    * The Buffalo Runners (1891)
    * The Hot Swamp (1892)
    * Hunted and Harried (1892)
    * The Walrus Hunters (1893)
    * An Author's Adventures (1893)
    * Wrecked but not Ruined (1895)

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