American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

[HERBERT, HENRY WILLIAM], “FRANK FORESTER” (18071858). Born in England and arriving in America in 1831, Henry William Herbert initiated a career as a writer of romances: his best-known fiction, Ringwood the Rover, was serialized in 1839 and published as a “cheap” novel in 1843. Under the name “Frank Forester,” he wrote extensively and authoritatively on field sports, which in his day comprised hunting, fishing, and horsemanship. Despite gaining apparent success in both genres, he ended his life with suicide.

Although the subjects of Herbert’s fiction range widely, Ringwood the Rover: A Tale of Florida marks an extension of the genre of southwest fiction into the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean.* Herbert followed Ringwood with Guarica, the Charib Bride: A Legend of Hispaniola (1844) and Tales of the Spanish Seas (1847). He capitalized on the war with Mexico in Pierre the Partisan: A Tale of the Marches (1848). His settings parallel James Fenimore Cooper’s* forays into this area with Mercedes of Castile (1840) and Jack Tier; or, The Florida Reef (1848). The success of works like Ringwood may have inspired Cooper’s serial publication of Jack Tier in 1846-1848.

William Southworth Hunt has written Frank Forester: A Tragedy in Exile (1933).

R. D. Madison