11-20 results of 46
- Books written by R.M. Ballantyne (1825-1894)
This book is well-written and carries the reader right up to the last chapter, always panting to know what ever will happen next. It describes a journey across central South America, at about the latitude of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Lots of different sorts of nasty happenings, and nasty people are encountered, and the problems are overcome one by one. It seems quite realistic, but at anyrate it is a good product of the writer's imagination and research. I enjoyed transcribing it very much. First published 1885.
This was a very difficult book to obtain. There was a copy in the British Library, and another one in a Library in Dartmouth, Devon. For several years I tried at least weekly to find a copy via Abebooks or eBay, with no success. The copy belonging to the Ballantyne family had disappeared, not to put too fine a point on it. Eventually a kind family in Canada offered to scan the pages of their copy, and send the images to me, and this is the result. Ballantyne did indeed try out some diving equipment, so as to obtain a first-hand feel for diving. It is related that something went wrong, too much air was sent down, and he surfaced rapidly upside down. A similar episode is related in the book. Ballantyne's style often gives rise to two or even three stories continuing simultaneously, and here we have the adventures of one Rooney Machowl, an Irishman who decides to move from his ship's carpenter trade to that of diving. In fact divers should always have another trade, or they wouldn't be much use under the water. In addition there is the aspiration of Edgar Berrington to win the hand of a fair young lady, there are the events happening to the young lady's father, and then again the events happening to the young lady's companion. So it is all fairly convoluted. But you'll certainly learn a lot about diving, as the art stood in 1876. It is rather strange that Ballantyne, having written this book, which ran to several printings, did not much mention diving in any other of his books.
To see the transcribed text with images (if available) use the FB2 version. This is one of the books by Ballantyne in which he describes one of the main institutions of British life - the Fire Brigade. Of course he wraps a good story into this description, but you come away with a good idea of how the Fire Brigade functioned in those days. Bear in mind that there were no motors - the fire-engines were drawn by galloping horses. There were no telephones, and the alarm was raised by someone running to the fire station. More than that, there was a system for alerting any adjacent fire stations, so that better cover could be given to the district as a whole. The power for the pumps was from men, and to rescue anyone the fireman had to ascend a ladder, hunt for the person, and carry him or her back down the ladder, all done with unsophisticated gear. Injuries to firemen, or even their death, were frequent. We are also introduced to the floating fire engine, that could attend a fire by the river-side, usually in one of the very vulnerable warehouses. First published 1867.
Although the book is written with Ballantyne's usual great skill in descriptive passages, the actual plan of the book is most unusual for him. In Chapter 1 he describes a young family, then describes the exploits of some of the boys of the family, now grown-up, in Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5. But in Chapter 5 there is introduced a story about a schoolboy who is nothing to do with the Thorogoods, though it is quite a good story, parts of it reminding one of "Martin Rattler," and his days at school. In Chapter 6 we are back to one of the Thorogood boys, who is a missionary in London, working among the poor. The final chapter also contains a long story about a third party, and ends with most of the family emigrating to the Rockies in North America. Here again the enwrapped short story is a good read. We must remember that in Ballantyne's usual style there are often two stories in some way running parallel with each other. In this case there are no less than six, and two of those enwrap a further story. It is really quite unusual for Ballantyne to write in such a convoluted manner. But be not afraid. The stories are very short. Ballantyne normally writes with each of his chapters nearly of the same length, but here we have 7, 6, 7, 8, 23, 9, 36 pages in the seven chapters, and it consists of at least ten exciting episodes. It is worth a read. First published 1883.
This is one of the short but interesting books that Ballantyne wrote with the less well-off members of his readership in mind. All of these were of about 120 pages, and quite small books, that could be sold for only a shilling or two. The hero of many of them is a character called Will Osten, or Wandering Will. In this book he returns from a long trip away, during which his father had died, so his mother was very pleased to see him. But just before he died his father had been left a property in California--it was the time of the Gold Rush. Will gathered some of his friends, and off they went to have a look at this property. So what the book is really about is the life of the miners in the Gold Rush.
Surprise, surprise! A young lady whom Will had met on one of his previous adventures appeared on the scene, on her way back to England. Will is determined to see more of her, but he has no money to pay the exorbitant sum demanded for his fare back to England, so he finds a very quick agent, who finds a very quick lawyer, so that his estate can be sold, and the money raised for the fare. He catches the boat by the skin of his teeth. Of course we will go with him on some more of his wanderings.
Robert Michael Ballantyne (1825-1894), A Short Biography, with acknowledgements to Chambers Biographical Dictionary.
Scottish author of boys' books, born in Edinburgh, a nephew of James and John Ballantyne, the printers. Educated at The Edinburgh Academy, he joined the Hudson's Bay Company in 1841, and worked as a clerk in the Red River Settlement in the backwoods of northern Canada until 1847, before returning to Edinburgh in 1848. He wrote his first stories on his experiences in Canada, with books such as The Young Fur Traders (1856). Coral Island (1858) is his most famous work.
After that he wrote over eighty books for boys, which were well researched, so that he gained a reputation which led to some of his books being written at the special request of the Post Office, the London Fire Brigade and other Authorities. He wrote marvellous books about the building of such lighthouses as the Eddystone and the Bell Rock. He also spent time aboard the Lightship in the Goodwin Sands, and was able to write a very informative novel about his experiences there. He produced about three books a year right up to the end of his life, but his earlier books are generally thought to be his best ones.
A PDF of scans and an HTML version of this book are provided. We also provide a plain TEXT version and full instructions for using this to make your own audiobook. To find these click on the PDF, HTML or TXT links on the left.
These transcriptions of books by various nineteenth century authors of instructive books for teenagers, were made during the period 1997 to the present day by Athelstane e-Books. Most of the books are concerned with the sea, but in any case all will give a good idea of life in the nineteenth century, and sometimes earlier than that. This of course includes attitudes prevalent at the time, but frowned upon nowadays.
We used a Plustek OpticBook 3600 scanner to scan the pages. We then made a pdf which we used to assist with editing the OCRed text.
To make a text version we used ABBYY Finereader 8 to produce a first draft of the text, and Athelstane software to find misreads and improve the text. We proof-read the chapters, and then made a CD with the book read aloud by either Fonix ISpeak. The last step enables us to hear and correct most of the errors that may have been missed by the other steps, as well as entertaining us during the work of transcription.
The resulting text can be read either here at the Internet Archive or at www.athelstane.co.uk
This is one of Ballantyne's earlier books, and is quite one of his best. Due to an unfortunate mishap, Martin, who was just visiting abord a vessel in his local harbour, find that the ship has sailed, and he with it. The ship is wrecked on the Brazil coast, and Martin has to swim for it. He and a seaman from the ship make their way across Brazil, to eventual safety amd return to England, having numerous interesting adventures as they go.
To see the transcribed text with images (if possible) use the FB2 version. The main subject matter of this book are the North Sea fishing fleets, and the strenuous and hard work they do to maintain a supply of fish on the tables of the British people, in particular, in the case of this story, tables in London. Storm and winter weather notwithstanding, the work goes on. Apart from these risks, there were other dangers, in particular hard drink, which was supplied by "copers", mainly from the Netherlands. These vessels would arrive among the fleets, bringing supplies of tobacco and alcohol. Most skippers would allow them to come alongside with their wares, because some of the men would not have worked without such supplies, though over-indulgence was a great evil. On the other hand there were also in attendance the vessels of the Missions to Deep Sea Fishermen (M.D.S.F.) in which the Gospel was preached, and in which the weary fisherman could find solace and a haven of rest. These also some of the skippers would allow to come alongside, but only the better class of skipper. A third kind of vessel would attend upon the fleet, and these were the fast steamers which would come out to collect the catches from the boats, and rush back to the ports to send the fish on their way by rail to London and the other great towns and cities. Ballantyne has, in his usual manner, described all these things with the utmost vividness, and woven into it a good story, which would keep his young readers interested. First published 1884.
To see the transcribed text with images (if possible) use the FB2 version. "The Red Man's Revenge" is very authoritatively written, because its setting is the Red River, where Ballantyne had spent all those years in his youth. As so often with Ballantyne's books there are the threads of two stories running throughout. One of these, occupying the last two-thirds of the book, concerns the Red River flood of May 1826, when the river rose fourteen feet over a largely level plain, causing much loss and annoyance to the settlers in that region, though the loss of only one life. The other thread concerns the kidnapping of a young white child in revenge for a fancied insult offered to a Red Indian, Petanawaquat. They are pursued by the boy's older brother and some other settlers, but not found. They return only when Petanawaquat has a change of heart, after meditating some time on the fact that Jesus Christ gave up His life to save the souls of those who considered themselves His enemies. There are various acutely observed actions, such as a buffalo hunt, various fights with bears, the tracking methods used by the pursuers, foiled only eventually when there is a prairie fire. We learn at this point what to do when a prairie fire is coming straight at you, and there appears to be no escape. There are various canoeing incidents, and indeed much of the action could not occur without the canoe. First published 1880.
To see the transcribed text with images (if possible) use the FB2 version. At the time at which Ballantyne was writing there were very few lifeboats stationed around the British shores, yet there was a very great need for them. Some shipowners were very mean about keeping their vessels in good repair, so that if the ship went aground or struck a rock, it would not be very long before she was pounded to bits, with the loss of cargo and life. It was even known for shipowners to deliberately over-insure their ships, so that they actually made money by the loss of a vessel whose age had made it too difficult and expensive to keep in good repair. This problem was one which Ballantyne took very seriously. In fact he was able to collect enough money by subscriptions to commission at least one new lifeboat. Partly through his efforts the RNLI - the Royal National Lifeboat Institute - came into being, and still exists to this day doing wonderful and fine work. Ballantyne wrote several books with a lifeboat theme. Apart from this one there was also "Saved by the Lifeboat", and of course his books on lighthouses and lightships made many references to lifeboats. As always he has taken a serious topic, and woven an interesting tale around it, one that would keep the attention of his young readers, while every now and then throughout the story another little lesson about lifeboats and the need for them was to be found. First published 1864.
To see the transcribed text with images (if possible) use the FB2 version. Our Hero, Fred Temple, has risen to be a senior manager in the great Liverpool business founded by his father. But he was getting overworked and deeply tired, so one day he announced that he was taking leave for a while and was going to visit Norway in a small yacht. Ballantyne had several holidays in Norway, so to write about it and describe it was a pleasure to him. This book is therefore an account of Norway seen through the eyes of an enthusiast for that country. Fred takes some friends with him. Together, they have great adventures and great fun. They even venture so far north as Lapland, and the Land of the Midnight Sun. A wonderful piece of vintage Victoriana at its best. First published 1864.