Patrick O'Brian

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Patrick O'Brian

Patrick O'Brian, CBE (12 December 19142 January 2000), born Richard Patrick Russ, was an English novelist and translator, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series of novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.


  • "Come," he said, taking her by the hand and leading her to a distant sopha, "come and sit by me, and let us talk of bats."
  • "And pray, what in sea language is meant by a ship?"
"She must have three square-rigged masts, sir," they told him kindly, "and a bowsprit; and the masts must be in three - lower, top and topgallant - for we never call a polacre a ship."
  • "... He is not very sharp in some ways; and in his simple view of the world, paederasts are dangerous only to powder-monkeys and choir boys, or to those epicene creatures that are to be found in Mediterranean brothels. I made circuitous attempt at enlightening him a little, but he looked very knowing and said, 'Don't tell me about rears and vices; I have been in the Navy all my life.'"
"Then surely he must be wanting a little in penetration?"
"James, I trust there was no mens rea in that remark?"
    • Master and Commander (1970) ("rears and vices" is O'Brian's homage to Jane Austen's Mansfield Park)
  • “But you know as well as I, patriotism is a word; and one that generally comes to mean either my country, right or wrong, which is infamous, or my country is always right, which is imbecile.”
    • Master and Commander (1970)
  • “This short watch that is about to come, or rather these two short watches--why are they called dog watches? Where, heu, heu, is the canine connection?'
Why,' said Stephen, 'it is because they are curtailed of course.”
  • "Jack,you have debauched my sloth."
  • "My God, oh my God," he said. "Six hundred men."
  • “Other people's marriages are a perpetual source of amazement.”

Quotes about Patrick O'Brian[edit]

  • (What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?) I don’t know, because I don’t know what you expect. Would finding all Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels be a shock?
  • Charles and I read to each other every night before dinner. We're working our way with great joy through Patrick O'Brian's sea stories. I think he's a storyteller on the order of Kipling. Marvelous stuff. They're just a delight.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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