|CLASSIC DIVE BOOKS
Author - R.M. Ballantyne.
These books are not listed for sale.
|R. M. Ballantyne (1825-1894)
was a Scottish juvenile fiction writer. Born Robert Michael Ballantyne
in Edinburgh, he was part of a famous family of printers and publishers.
In 1848 he published his first book, Hudson's Bay: or, Life in the Wilds
of North America. For some time he was employed by Messrs Constable,
the publishers, but in 1856 he gave up business for the profession of literature,
and began the series of adventure stories for the young with which his
name is popularly associated. The Young Fur-Traders (1856), The
Coral Island (1857), The World of Ice (1859), Ungava: A Tale
of Eskimo Land (1857), The Dog Crusoe (1860), The Lighthouse
(1865), Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines (1868), The Pirate
City (1874), Erling the Bold (1869), The Settler and the
Savage (1877), and many other books, to the number of upwards of a
hundred, followed in regular succession, his rule being in every case to
write as far as possible from personal knowledge of the scenes he described.
Ballantyne, the son of a newspaper editor and nephew of the Ballantyne brothers was educated at Edinburgh Academy (1835-37) and privately. Bad financial investments caused the family's ruin and Ballantyne's life changed thoroughly. Between the ages of 16 and 22 he was employed in Canada by the Hudson Bay Company, trading with local Indians in remote areas. In 1847 he returned to Scotland where he was employed as a clerk at the North British Railway Company in Edinburgh for two years, and worked then for the paper-makers Alexander Cowan and Company. From 1849 to 1855 he was junior partner of Thomas Constable and Company, a printing house. In 1848 appeared Ballantyne's first novel, Hudson's Bay, or, The Life in thge Wilds of North America. The autobiographical work depicted his youth and adventures in Canada. From 1856 he devoted himself entirely to free-lance writing and giving lectures. Ballantyne's first stories depicted the life in Canada, later works dealt with adventures in Britain, Africa, and elsewhere; several of his books were based on personal experience.
Annoyed by a mistake he made in The Coral Island, (where he described 'thin-skinned coconuts) Ballantyne travelled widely to gain first-hand knowledge and to research the backgrounds of his stories. He spent three weeks on Bell Rock to write The Lighthouse (1865); for a short time a London fireman (Fighting the Flames, 1867); for Deep Down (1868) he lived with the tinminers of St. Just for over three months. Experiences as a fireman on board the tender of the London-to Edinburgh express and weeks on the Gull Lightship also gave material for his subsequent novels. Ballantyne was especially careful with the details of local flora and fauna, giving believable settings for his dramatic adventures, shipwrecks and other colorful events.
In 1866 he married Jane Dickson Grant; they had four sons and two daughters. Ballantyne died in Rome, Italy, on February 8, 1894.
Ballantyne opened views into the world, that just waited for brave explorers, for the sons of the rapidly expanding literati of middle- and working-class families. He became the hero of Victorian youth. Ballantyne's straitjacketed Puritanism did not rouse any questions, and the lighthearted descriptions of the slaughter of fauna and natives of the islands were then passed without comment. With his books Ballantyne made his contribution to the success of missionaries, soldiers, sailors, trail-blazers, the exploiters of the great British Empire.
Of his over-eighty book, the only one of real direct interest related to diving was Under the Waves - Diving in Deep Waters, although several others, as listed below, may be of interest as they relate to the sea. The Coral Island may be interesting to surfers as it has an excellent painting pf native surfers - and considering the book was first published in 1858, this must be one of the earliest mentions of board surfing. (The painting is 1913).
He was also an accomplished
artist, and exhibited some of his water-colours at the Royal Scottish Academy.
|UNDER THE WAVES
Subtitle: Diving in Deep Waters
R M Ballantyne.
Published by: James Nisbitt & Co Ltd 21 Berners Street, London. First Published: 1876. Many editions, see also reprint/reproduction below.
Hard Cover with 414 printed pages. Dimensions 18.7 cms tall by 12 cms wide
Contains 6 Engravings.
Written in 1876, this is believed to be the first adventure book written about diving for young readers. It is a super story about the hero, Edger Berrinton and his diving friends, one of whom is called Rooney, another hero of the tale. The story has everything: love, shipwrecks, treasure hunting, travel and pirates in the South China Seas, even the British Royal Navy make an appearance and see that justice is served at one point. The book contains six beautiful diving engravings. Four of the diving prints are on separate pages within the book, there is a similar picture as a frontispiece and an illustrated title page showing a diving helmet with divers performing various tasks both on and around the helmet. In all a wonderful read once you get to grips with the Victorian English. [pt]
The book reviewed above is that on the top left with the embossed red cover. It differs from the edition as shown left below (maroon cover). Although there is no date on this (maroon) edition, is has, on title page, the words NINETEENTH THOUSAND. This is a strange was of indicating a quanity or number, but I am advised that it refers in some loose way to the edition. It appears that 'in those times', ie early 1900s, books some books were printed in runs off 'thousands'. Often a run of a thousand was regarded as an 'edition' but in most instances would have been just a reprint. (The 'red edition' reviewed here by PT has 'TEN THOUSANDTH' on the title page). It would appear that the maroon cover book on the left is within the range of 19,000 - 19,999. What actual 'edition' this is cannot be determined from this 'print run' number. Note also that different editions may have different illustrations, or more specifically, different illustrators. The 'maroon edition' is 'With Illustrations' by someone named Arthur Twidle. The ilustrations in the two editions shown differ geatly, and are by different authors.
MODERN REPRINT - REPRODUCTION
|GASCOYNE - THE SANDALWOOD TRADER
A Tale of the Pacific
R. M. Ballantyne.
Published by A.L.Burt, New York, undated, c 1910.
Hardcover, illustrated board cover, 259 pages.
Includes an additional fifty-seven page addition called 'On The Fo'k'sle Head - Sea Stories' by W, Clark Russell.
You certainly cannot judge this book by its cover, which shows a young lad pulling a book from a library shelf - or it's spine, which shows a stylized Victorian flower! On the other hand, Ballantyne was a popular and prolific author of his day.
I have included it here because of its local, ie Pacific, content - I bet there is some diving in it but I have not read it. [ps]
|THE CORAL ISLAND
There have been numerous editions of this excellent book, first published in 1858, and I understand that it has never been out of print. Ballantyne's narrative skill, colorful settings, and resourcefulness of his heroes have secured his popularity throughout generations.
An excellent and rather rare edition is that of 1913, with a foreward by J.M.Barrie (who gave my wife Wendy her name), and illustrations by Septimus Scott.
Publisher: James Nisbet and Co. Ltd. London.
Hardcover, medium format, 339 pages. Of particular value are the eight colour illustrations that have been tipped in, with tissue-paper protection. Unusually, the tissue protection has also been printed, with the caption of the illustration. The first illustration is of the coral island, and the protective tissue is printeed with a map of the island which overlays the illustration. It is important that this illustration, in particular, is still present, along with its map.
Here we have three very famous men - two well-known authors, and a very well repected illustrator and painter of his time. I would venture to suggest that what gives this edition its cahrm and value are both the preface, and the illustrations.
It was this book which Robert Louis Stevenson acknowledges as the formative influence of his own love of the South Seas. The book also inspired J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan (1904) and William Golding's Lord of the Flies (1954).
The Coral Island tells a story of three English boys, Ralph Rover, the 15 years old narrator, three years older Jack, and humorous 14 year old Peterkin, who are shipwrecked on a deserted island. In the true Robinson Crusoe fashion they create an idyllic society despite typhoons, wild hogs, and hostile visitors. The boys make a fire by rubbing two sticks together and climb palm trees to gather thin-skinned coconuts - a mistake in detail Ballantyne was bitterly to regret. To sail to other islands they build a boat and make a sail out of the coconut cloth. After a fight Jack wins the native chief, Taroro. Then evil pirates kidnap Ralph whose adventures continue among the South Sea Islands. He manages to escape with one of the members of the crew, Bloody Bill, and with the pirates' schooner. Bill dies and Ralph and returns to his friends. When they try to help Avatea, a Samoan girl, to go to Christian natives, Tararo seizes them. However, an English missionary appears on the scene and Tararo becomes a Christian. Finally the three heroes return to civilization, matured and much wiser. "To part is the lot of all mankind. The world is a scene of constant leave-making, and the hands that grasp in cordial greeting today, are doomed ere long to unite for the last time, when the quivering lips pronounce the word - 'Farewell'." [ps]
Being the Story of a Great Fight Between Man and the Sea.
Published by Thomas Nelson and Sons, London etc. No date. Possibly 1920s.
Hardcover, printed boards, 443 pages, one watercolour plate.
Is this fact or fiction? It is hard to determineWritten in the style of a novel, it is probably both, a fanciful story based on a number of 'incidents', possibly embellished, but with a general thread of fact in the way of life of those living in a lighthouse.
|THE OCEAN AND ITS WONDERS
Published by: T Nelson & Sons, Edinburgh, Scotland in 1876.
Victorian decorated cloth covers, hard cover; 235 printed pages. Dimensions: 17.5 cms by 12 cms wide.
Written by the same author as “Under the Waves – Diving in Deep Waters”, this book deals with many aspects of the sea. It is divided into 16 chapters, each well illustrated with wood block prints, some as large as a full page. Subjects covered include waves, the Gulf Stream, Trade Winds, Waterspouts, Arctic Seas, Icebergs, coral and volcanic islands. [pt]
Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825 –1894) was a Scottish juvenile fiction writer, bornEdinburgh, Scotland, one of a famous family of printers and publishers. At the age of 16 he went to Canada and was six years in the service of the Hudson's Bay Company. He returned to Scotland in 1847, and published his first book the following year, Hudson's Bay: or, Life in the Wilds of North America. For some time he was employed by Messrs Constable, the publishers, but in 1856 he gave up business for the profession of literature, and began the series of adventure stories for the young with which his name is popularly associated: The Young Fur-Traders (1856), The Coral Island (1857), The World of Ice (1859), Ungava: a Tale of Eskimo Land (1857), The Dog Crusoe (1860), The Lighthouse (1865), Deep Down (1868), The Pirate City (1874), Erling the Bold (1869), The Settler and the Savage (1877), and other books, to the number of upwards of a hundred, followed in regular succession, his rule being in every case to write as far as possible from personal knowledge of the scenes he described.