Was there another tradition in the making when the Atlantic Monthly Press published in 1920 The Mutineers and in 1921 The Great Quest, each by Charles Boardman Hawes? It begins to look so, for the autumn of 1923 will be marked by the publication of another sea story by this writer of rapidly growing popularity. His two previous books, besides making a large number of friends in America, have been published in England by William Heinemann, Ltd., and are establishing themselves in many parts of the world among the newer classics of their kind.
This latest story by Mr. Hawes has the same authentic tang of the sea that distinguished its predecessors. Its background is even less familiar than theirs, which was that of Yankee ships in the trades, respectively, of China and the West Coast of Africa. In The Dark Frigate, Mr. Hawes’s new story, the reader finds himself in the lively company of English pirates of the seventeenth century, plying their trade chiefly in the Caribbean. England itself, before and during the ascendancy of Cromwell, provides a background for the earlier and later chapters. In fertility of invention, both of incident and of character, Mr. Hawes has turned his story-telling powers to memorable use. His success in reproducing the veritable atmosphere of the time is equally notable. Indeed it attains a high point of literary quality. In every way the tale is the product of a ripened skill.
Of course it will appeal to boys; but it is far from a merely juvenile story. The cruising boat with a little shelf of books over a locker in its cabin must save an inch or two of space next summer for this volume. Meanwhile we count upon its giving a keen pleasure to many a landsman with a sailor’s heart and the spirit which responds to valorous adventure ashore and afloat. The boy or man without a drop of adventurer’s blood in his veins will have no use for it.
Since ‘ commencing author ‘ in the sense of making authorship his sole occupation, Mr. Hawes has kept himself as near to the sea as one may without living on board ship. For several years he has been a resident of Gloucester, Massachusetts.