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 "The Old Sailor" 
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Post "The Old Sailor"
Has anyone read any of the books written by Matthew Henry Barker, who went by the pen name of "The Old Sailor"?

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susan


Mon Nov 21, 2005 10:10 pm
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I received a copy of Nights at Sea; or, Naval Life During the War (1852) in the mail today. :D It's a nice little book. Skimming through it, I see there's a chapter called "Jack Among the Mummies." I look forward to reading that one!

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Fri Dec 02, 2005 6:50 am
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Susan, I have never heard of this author nor of his books and am looking forward to your comments after reading the book you have. I did go on-line and found this information about "The Old Sailor."

Matthew Henry Barker -- His details may be found in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography - a copy may be in your local reference library.

To briefly outline his career - born Deptford; went to sea as a seaman with the East India Company; served in the Royal Navy for a time (highest rank being Masters Mate); 1813 left navy; later became a merchant captain, and was a prisoner of war for a time. From late 1820's started writing and was very popular in the late 1830's; wrote a number of nautical novels, mainly collections of nautical tales or 'sketches of life', such as 'Topsail Sheet Blocks' - 'The Old Sailors Jolly Boat' etc. Best known was 'Greenwich Hospital', but 'Tough Yarns' and 'Nights at Sea' were also popular. He knew Dickens and Cruikshank, the latter illustrating his work. He was the naval editor of the 'United Services Gazette' and was a regular contributor to Cruikshank's 'Ominibus'. He also wrote a handbook on 'The Mariners Compass'. His works did not stay popular however, and by the 1840's he was down on his luck. Said to have 'died in poverty' in 1846.


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Last edited by timoneer on Sat Dec 03, 2005 1:17 am, edited 1 time in total.



Fri Dec 02, 2005 11:49 am
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Thanks for posting that information, Don. I did do a little bit of research on him before I bid (eBay!) on the book. It sounds like he had an interesting life, even though he left the navy.

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susan


Fri Dec 02, 2005 8:15 pm
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I was fortunate enough to get a copy of "The Old Sailor's Jolly Boat" by M.H. Barker. It was published in 1845 and has a few foxing problems but overall is a very decent book. I've finished only the first story: "The Boatswain's Love Letter." It's almost a shame to consider this fiction since there are so many seemingly realistic parts: scenes of China, descriptions of the Chinese people, fishing for sharks, the "fake" Dutch hospital, etc. I guess that is one thing that makes good fiction, the details.
Don


Tue Dec 27, 2005 4:02 am
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Susan, I do not know what your copy of "Nights at Sea" is like, but "The Jolly Boat" is very much like the United Service Journals I have. There are "chapters" that are plainly fiction but intermixed are chapters that are historically accurate accounts of the Royal Navy.

Since the USJ's started in 1829 (until the 1840's ?) and "The Jolly Boat" was published in 1845, I wonder if M.H. Barker was influenced by them? I have requested a copy of Barker's most popular work "Greenwich Hospital" through an InterLibrary Loan, just to see another work by him.

Don


Wed Dec 28, 2005 6:30 am
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Don,

I haven't had the chance to do more than skim through Nights at Sea. From what I saw, it seems to be more fictional, or perhaps a thinly veiled account of his experiences.

The bio you posted said he was one of the editors of the United Services Gazette. Perhaps this publication was similar to the USJ?

Maybe there is someone out there who is familiar with it and can tell us more?

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susan


Thu Dec 29, 2005 12:31 am
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susan wrote:
The bio you posted said he was one of the editors of the United Services Gazette. Perhaps this publication was similar to the USJ?

This is all I could find on-line: ALARIC ALEXANDER WATTS (1797-1864). Poet, b. in London, had an active career as a journalist. He founded the United Service Gazette, and edited various newspapers and an annual, the Literary Souvenir. His poems were collected as Lyrics of the Heart. His numerous journalistic ventures finally resulted in bankruptcy.

I could find nothing else specific about the "United Service Gazette" but maybe the name of the founder will trigger some help.

Don


Thu Dec 29, 2005 4:52 am
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