American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

MASON, ARTHUR (1876-1955). Born in Ireland, Mason went to sea at age seventeen to embark on a career that would last twenty-four years. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1899. For much of his career he was engaged in the lumber trade out of various ports from San Francisco to the Pacific Northwest,* where he served as mate and captain on a number of vessels.

When his sea career was over, he worked as superintendent of deck rigging at the Port Newark naval shipyard at the beginning of World War I and then began his decade-long work as a writer. His main contributions to American sea literature include a novel, The Flying Bo’sun: A Mystery of the Sea (1920), and a collection of stories, The Cook and the Captain Bold (1924). He also published a less successful novel, Swansea Dan (1929), and two volumes of autobiography, Ocean Echoes (1922) and An Ocean Boyhood (1927). The Flying Bo’sun and The Cook and the Captain Bold are notable for Mason’s engaging, plain style, for the inclusion of memorable anecdotes from small commercial vessels during the last years of sail, and for Mason’s understated authority as an experienced seaman.

Bert Bender