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Richard Bolitho is a fictional Royal Navy officer who is the main character in a series of novels written by Douglas Reeman (using the pseudonym Alexander Kent). Bolitho was born in 1756 in Falmouth, Cornwallmarker, in the United Kingdommarker, the second son of a prestigious naval family. He joined the navy in 1768. He served in the wars against Francemarker and the United Statesmarker. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1774, captain in 1782, and admiral in 1800. He died in action against the French in 1815.

Among his fellow officers, Bolitho was known for his tactical ingenuity, his daring, and his disregard of both convention and political expediency. He rose to high rank--despite the opposition of less competent men--because of his ability to win crucial victories against seemingly impossible odds. Among the men of the fleet, Bolitho was known as a demanding but scrupulously fair and humane captain. The men sometimes referred to him, though never to his face, as "Equality Dick." His reputation as a paragon of decency in a brutal world created a fierce sense of loyalty among those who had served under him.

Officers and men who served under Bolitho frequently chose, when given the chance, to do so again. Ships in the squadrons he commanded as a senior officer were frequently commanded by men who had served as his lieutenants when he was a captain. His most lasting relationships were with Thomas Herrick--a fellow officer and his oldest friend--and John Allday, a former Cornish shepherd who became Bolitho's coxswain and de facto bodyguard.

Bolitho married twice. His first wife died in a carriage accident. His relationship with the second, the mother of his child, deteriorated when it became clear that she was nothing like the person he thought he married and was a very selfish individual. Estranged from her and his daughter, he carried on an increasingly public affair with Lady Catherine Somervell, who was his wife in all but name until his death.

In "Enemy In Sight", Bolitho is joined by his nephew Adam Pascoe, who is later renamed Adam Bolitho when he becomes Richard's heir. Adam, the only son of Bolitho's disgraced older brother Hugh, was born in 1780 in Penzancemarker, Cornwallmarker, shortly after his father joined the revolution in America. Having been sent to Richard at the age of 14 by his dying mother, he joined the Royal Navy, rising through the ranks to establish himself as a daring and resourceful frigate captain, as his uncle had once done.

Adam's role in the series steadily increases as Richard ages and achieves high rank. After Richard's death, he becomes the principal character in the series.

Books in the Series

Books in series order by the year they are set in (with year published):
  1. 1772 - Richard Bolitho, Midshipman (1975)
  2. 1773 - Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger' (1978)
  3. 1774 - Band Of Brothers (2006)
  4. 1774 - Stand Into Danger (1980)
  5. 1777 - In Gallant Company (1977)
  6. 1778 - Sloop Of War (1972)
  7. 1782 - To Glory We Steer (1968)
  8. 1784 - Command a King's Ship (1973)
  9. 1789 - Passage To Mutiny (1976)
  10. 1792 - With All Despatch (1988)
  11. 1793 - Form Line of Battle! (1969)
  12. 1794 - Enemy In Sight! (1970)
  13. 1797 - Flag Captain (1971)
  14. 1798 - Signal - Close Action! (1974)
  15. 1800 - The Inshore Squadron (1977)
  16. 1801 - A Tradition Of Victory (1981)
  17. 1802 - Success To The Brave (1983)
  18. 1803 - Colours Aloft! (1986)
  19. 1804 - Honour This Day (1987)
  20. 1806 - The Only Victor (1990)
  21. 1808 - Beyond The Reef (1992)
  22. 1809 - The Darkening Sea (1993)
  23. 1811 - For My Country's Freedom (1995)
  24. 1813 - Cross Of St. George (1996)
  25. 1814 - Sword of Honour (1998)
  26. 1815 - Second to None (1999)
  27. 1815 - Relentless Pursuit (2001)
  28. 1817 - Man of War (2003)
  29. 1818 - Heart of Oak (2007)

Synopsis of Books in the series

The Complete Midshipman Bolitho (1772-1774)

Richard Bolitho-Midshipman

Richard Bolitho joins his second ship the "Gorgon". "Gorgon" is captained by Captain Beves Conway. While waiting in an inn to board the shi he meets another midshipman his own age called Martyn Dancer.They Quickly become close friends.

Ships in which Bolitho serves

Ships of Bolitho
Book Ship Guns Class Captain Rank Year
HMS Manxman 80 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Sir Henry Langford Midshipman 1768-1772
Richard Bolitho, Midshipman HMS Gorgon 74 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Beves Conway Midshipman 1772
Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger' HM Cutter Avenger 16 Cutter Lieutenant Hugh Bolitho Midshipman 1773
Band Of Brothers HM Schooner Hotspur 14 Armed Schooner Lieutenant Montagu Verling Acting Lieutenant 1774
Stand Into Danger HMS Destiny 28 Frigate Captain Henry Dumaresq Lieutenant 1774
In Gallant Company HMS Trojan 80 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Gilbert Pears Lieutenant 1777
Sloop Of War HM Sloop Sparrow 18 Sloop of War Commander Richard Bolitho Commander, Junior Captain 1778-1781
To Glory We Steer HMS Phalarope 32 Frigate Captain Richard Bolitho Post Captain 1782
Command a King's Ship HMS Undine 32 Frigate Captain Richard Bolitho Post Captain 1784
Passage To Mutiny HMS Tempest 36 Frigate Captain Richard Bolitho Post Captain 1789
With All Despatch HM Cutters Telemachus, Snapdragon,Wakeful 12 Cutters Lieutenants Joe Paice,Hector Vatass,Charles Queely Captain-in-Chief 1792
Form Line of Battle!; Enemy In Sight! HMS Hyperion 74 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Richard Bolitho Post Captain 1793
The Flag Captain HMS Euryalus 100 First Rate Ship of the Line Captain Richard Bolitho Flag Captain 1797
Signal - Close Action! HMS Lysander 74 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Thomas Herrick Commodore 1798
The Inshore Squadron; A Tradition of Victory HMS Benbow 74 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Thomas Herrick Rear-Admiral 1800- 1801
Success To The Brave HMS Achates 64 Fourth Rate Ship of the Line Captain Valentine Keen Vice-Admiral 1802
Colours Aloft! HMS Argonaute 74 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Valentine Keen Vice-Admiral 1803
Honour This Day HMS Hyperion 74 Third Rate Ship of the Line Captain Edmund Haven then Valentine Keen Vice-Admiral 1804-1805
The Only Victor; Beyond The Reef HMS Black Prince 90 Second Rate Ship of the Line Captain Valentine Keen Vice-Admiral 1806-1809
The Darkening Sea HMS Valkyrie 42 Frigate Captain Aaron Trevenen Vice-Admiral 1809-1810
For My Country's Freedom HMS Indomitable 44 Razee Captain James Tyacke Admiral 1811-1812

There were also some omnibus editions which collected several books from the series into one volume

  1. Midshipman Bolitho - contains Richard Bolitho, Midshipman and Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger'
  2. Captain Richard Bolitho, RN - contains To Glory We Steer, Sloop Of War, and Command a King's Ship
  3. Bolitho - contains Colours Aloft, Honour This Day, and The Only Victor

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