Biographical Information about C. S. Forester
(Cecil Louis Troughton Smith)
 

C. S. Forester (Pen Name) was a prolific author, with over 40 children's books, Plays, novels, and histories to his credit.  The Horatio Hornblower series of novels earned him wide acclaim as a writer of historical novels centered around the experience and career of an Officer of the British Royal Navy.  The Hornblower character was the perfect example of how a young naval officer took every opportunity of luck, action and thought to successfully advance a military career to the highest level.

Forester was born in 1899 in Cairo, Egypt.  He was the 5th child of George and Sarah Smith.  His real name was Cecil Louis Troughton Smith.  After a family breakup at an early age, he moved with his mother to London and attended schools in England.  His father, employed by the British government, remained in Egypt.

Forester was reading at an early age.  He entered college in 1915.  Forester had always worn glasses and been thin.  Later, trying to enlist in the army he failed his physical and was told there was not a chance that we would be accepted even though he was of good height and somewhat athletic.

In about 1921, after studying medicine for several years, he left academia and began writing seriously using his pen name.  Forester's writing career started slowly, writing novels and biographies.  By the mid thirties he had become a well known and successful writer.  As he gained a degree of financial security he married Kathleen Belcher.  His successes included The Gun, The African Queen, and Death of the French, among others, always using the pen name of C. S. Forester.

Forester's novel "The African Queen", published in 1935, was arguably his most famous book.  It was a huge hit when it was published, and was years later made into the classic film starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.  This film, based upon C. S. Forester's novel, remains one of THE classic American films ever to be made.

He was a very successful author on many levels, and was probably best known for his creation of the consummate British Royal Navy officer, Horatio Hornblower.  The fictional Hornblower was a career officer in the British Royal Navy during the time of Admiral Nelson and the historical naval battle at Trafalgar. 

Forester tells Horatio Hornblower's story in a series of books that made Hornblower one of the great naval characters in literature, while also providing excellent historical prospective on the life and heroics of the men who served in Britain's sailing war ships (Ships of the Line) during the period.

Forester was able to capture in words the action and emotions of a British naval officer as he commanded his ships and sailors as they risked their lives performing their duty for the King.  Horatio Hornblower's thrill of being in command and in the middle of the battle comes through clearly in each of the Hornblower novels.  Hornblower clearly exulted in the risk to his life and opportunity for glory that each naval action offered him.

From about 1932 until about 1940 Forester worked in America for several months each year as a Hollywood screenwriter.  He also wrote as a news correspondent and reported during this period. 

During World War II Forester came to America and worked at writing propaganda stories, news, etc., and earned significant recognition for his efforts.  He made his official home in California at the end of the war.

Forester divorced Kathleen in 1945 and married Dorothy Foster in 1947.  After becoming ill with atherosclerosis in 1943 he experienced a serious heart attack in 1961.  In 1964 he became further disabled from a stroke, and died in 1966.  With Kathleen he had two sons.

The pen name C. S. Forester was recognized around the world for his outstanding contribution to the written literature of England.  During Forester's lifetime he wrote an entire line of British historical novels, biographies, plays and other compositions. 

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