Author(s): Patrick O'Brian
Beasts Royal is the second book written by Patrick O'Brian - made available, at last, for the first time since the 1930s and elegantly repackaged. On the indigo waters of the South Sea, the crew of a schooner are attacked by a man-eating tiger-shark. In the humid depths of the African jungle, a thirty-foot python plots to rid himself of his rival, a wily old crocodile. Amid the heat and dust of the Punjab, the snake-charmer Hussein escapes into the forest on the elephant that he trained when a mahout in his youth. With the dry wit and unsentimental precision O'Brian would come to be loved for, we see the drama and tragedies of the natural world unfold for these, as well as other birds and beasts, in these twelve tales of animal adventure that would appear together in 1934 as the author's second book. O'Brian's debut, Caesar, had been published in 1930 and became an instant success, seeing him hailed as the 'boy-Thoreau'. His second novel, Hussein, would expand upon one of the stories included in this collection and has been praised by Martin Booth of The Daily Telegraph as being '...as fresh today as when it was written...so rich in detail, it is breathtaking.'
As with Caesar and Hussein, Beasts Royal sheds fascinating light on the formation of the literary genius behind the Aubrey-Maturin series of historical adventure tales, for which he is deservedly famous.
Patrick O'Brian, until his death in 2000, was one of our greatest contemporary novelists. He is the author of the acclaimed Aubrey-Maturin tales and the biographer of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He is the author of many other books including Testimonies, and his Collected Short Stories. In 1995 he was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime's contribution to literature. In the same year he was awarded the CBE. In 1997 he received an honorary doctorate of letters from Trinity College, Dublin. He lived for many years in South West France and he died in Dublin in January 2000.