C.S. Forester wrote several successful novels with military and naval themes, including The African Queen, The Barbary Pirates, The General, The Good Shepherd, The Gun, The Last Nine Days of the "Bismarck", and Rifleman Dodd. However, he is best remembered as the creator of Horatio Hornblower, a British naval genius of the Napoleonic era, whose exploits and adventures on the high seas Forester chronicled in a series of eleven acclaimed historical novels. Over the years since the books' original publication, Hornblower has proved to be one of the most beloved and enduring fictional heroes in English literature, his popularity rivaled only by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes.
Born Cecil Louis Troughton Smith in Cairo, Egypt, in 1899, Forester grew up in London. At the start of World War II he traveled on behalf of the British government to America, where he produced propaganda encouraging the United States to remain on Britain's side. After the War, Forester remained in America and made Berkeley, California, his home.
The character of Horatio Hornblower was born after Forester was called to Hollywood to write a pirate film. While the script was being drafted, another studio released Captain Blood, starring Errol Flynn, based on the same historical incidents about which Forester was writing. Rather than seek another movie project, and to avoid an impending paternity suit, Forester jumped aboard a freighter bound for England. By the end of the voyage he had outlined Beat to Quarters, which introduced the now legendary characters of Hornblower, Bush, and Lady Barbara.
Forester died in 1966 while working on a final Hornblower novel, Hornblower During the Crisis, which was left uncompleted at the time of his death.