I was born in the year 1800 in the town of Newnham-on-Severn in Gloucestershire. I am sure of the year because my father always told me that I was born at the end of the century in the year that they began to build the great house.
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John Masefield (1878-1967) is in the highest class as a writer of clear, muscular English, whether he is writing about the countryside he loved so well, or, as in this book, the sea, with which he maintained that love-hate relationship which is the hallmark of the genuine seaman, ' writes Professor Lloyd. Brought up in Herefordshire and soon orphaned, Masefield was trained on the Conway at Liverpool, served his apprenticeship in windjammers, sailed around the Horn and was beached in New York before he was eighteen. His experiences in these impressionable years stayed with him for the rest of his life. Back in England at the turn of the century, Masefield worked for the Manchester "Guardian" and published two books of verse (one which contained 'Sea Fever') and a collection of short stories before "Sea Life" in "Nelson's Time" was published in 1905. He became famous in 1911 with the publication of "Everlasting Mercy", when the use of the word 'bloody' created a sensation. Reynard the Fox, published in 1919, consolidated his position. In 1930 he was appointed Poet Laureate and other honours followed, notably the Order of Merit in 1935.From Publishers Weekly:
Best known perhaps for his poem "Sea-Fever" ("I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,/ And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by"), Masefield (1878-1967) produced this rattling yarn in 1911. The tale of a 12-year-old boy who falls in with smugglers could trace its lineage back to the swashbuckling stories of Robert Louis Stevenson and may find its modern-day offspring in such works as Iain Lawrence's High Seas trilogy. Jim, an orphan, is sent to live with relatives along the Devon coast. There he accidentally witnesses the deeds of a troop of night-riders, or smugglers, and becomes caught up in their shadowy, dangerous world of excise men, sea caves and illicit cargo. Forced to sign on for a voyage ("You've got to become one of us, so as if you give us away you'll be in the same boat," explains Marah Gorsuch, a mesmerizing, larger-than-life night-rider who might be friend or foe), Jim faces hurdle after hurdle. From a skirmish with a British frigate to a nightmarish chase on horseback to run-ins with soldiers and gypsies, the plot stays rip-roaring, and the atmospheric prose ("the strange moan of the snow-wind") supplies a polished, literary veneer. Ages 9-12.
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