George Alfred Henty
Photo portrait by Elliott & Fry
|Born||8 December 1832|
Trumpington, Cambridgeshire, England
|Died||16 November 1902 (aged 69)|
Weymouth, Dorset, England
|Occupation||Fiction writer, war correspondent|
|Period||Late 19th century|
George Alfred Henty (8 December 1832 - 16 November 1902) was a prolific English novelist and war correspondent. He is best known for his historical adventure stories that were popular in the late 19th century. His works include The Dragon & The Raven (1886), For The Temple (1888), Under Drake's Flag (1883) and In Freedom's Cause (1885).
G. A. Henty was born in Trumpington, near Cambridge. He was a sickly child who had to spend long periods in bed. During his frequent illnesses he became an avid reader and developed a wide range of interests which he carried into adulthood. He attended Westminster School, London, and later Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was a keen sportsman. He left the university early without completing his degree to volunteer for the Army Hospital Commissariat when the Crimean War began. He was sent to the Crimea and while there he witnessed the appalling conditions under which the British soldier had to fight. His letters home were filled with vivid descriptions of what he saw. His father was impressed by his letters and sent them to The Morning Advertiser newspaper which printed them. This initial writing success was a factor in Henty's later decision to accept the offer to become a special correspondent, the early name for journalists now better known as war correspondents.
Shortly before resigning from the army as a captain in 1859 he married Elizabeth Finucane. The couple had four children. Elizabeth died in 1865 after a long illness and shortly after her death Henty began writing articles for the Standard newspaper. In 1866 the newspaper sent him as their special correspondent to report on the Austro-Italian War where he met Giuseppe Garibaldi. He went on to cover the 1868 British punitive expedition to Abyssinia, the Franco-Prussian War, the Ashanti War, the Carlist Rebellion in Spain and the Turco-Serbian War. He also witnessed the opening of the Suez Canal and travelled to Palestine, Russia and India.
Henty was a strong supporter of the British Empire all his life; according to literary critic Kathryn Castle: "Henty ... exemplified the ethos of the new imperialism, and glorified in its successes". Henty's ideas about politics were influenced by writers such as Sir Charles Dilke and Thomas Carlyle.
Henty once related in an interview how his storytelling skills grew out of tales told after dinner to his children. He wrote his first children's book, Out on the Pampas in 1868, naming the book's main characters after his children. The book was published by Griffith and Farran in November 1870 with a title page date of 1871. While most of the 122 books he wrote were for children, he also wrote adult novels, non-fiction such as The March to Magdala and Those Other Animals, short stories for the likes of The Boy's Own Paper and edited the Union Jack, a weekly boy's magazine.
His children's novels typically revolved around a boy or young man living in troubled times. These ranged from the Punic War to more recent conflicts such as the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War. Henty's heroes - which occasionally included young ladies - are uniformly intelligent, courageous, honest and resourceful with plenty of 'pluck' yet are also modest. These virtues have made Henty's novels popular today among many Christians and homeschoolers.
Henty usually researched his novels by ordering several books on the subject he was writing on from libraries, and consulting them before beginning writing. Some of his books were written about events (such as the Crimean War) that he witnessed himself; hence, these books are written with greater detail as Henty drew upon his first-hand experiences of people, places, and events.
On 16 November 1902, Henty died aboard his yacht in Weymouth Harbour, Dorset, leaving unfinished his last novel, By Conduct and Courage, which was completed by his son Captain C.G. Henty.
G. A. Henty's commercial popularity encouraged other writers to try writing juvenile adventure stories in his style; "Herbert Strang", Henry Everett McNeil, Percy F. Westerman and Captain Frederick Sadleir Brereton all wrote novels in "the Henty tradition", often incorporating then-contemporary themes such as aviation and First World War combat. By the 1930s, however, interest in Henty's work was declining in Britain, and hence few children's writers there looked to his work as a model.
Henty wrote 122 works of historical fiction and all first editions had the date printed at the foot of the title page. Several short stories published in book form are included in this total, with the stories taken from previously published full-length novels. The dates given below are those printed at the foot of the title page of the very first editions in the United Kingdom. It is a common misconception that American Henty titles were published before those of the UK. All Henty titles bar one were published in the UK before those of America. The simple explanation for this error of judgement is that Charles Scribner's Sons of New York dated their Henty first editions for the current year. The first UK editions published by Blackie were always dated for the coming year, to have them looking fresh for Christmas. The only Henty title published in book form in America before the UK book was In the Hands of the Cave-Dwellers dated 1900 and published by Harper of New York. This title was published in book form in the UK in 1903, although the story itself had already been published in England prior to the first American edition, in The Boy's Own Annual.
A book published in 1884 in the "Fireside Henty Series" called Forest and Frontier or Forests and Frontiers and Adventures Among the Indians was discovered to be by Thomas M. Newson.
In the late 1990s, a number of American publishers, such as Polyglot Press (Philadelphia, PA), PrestonSpeed, and the Lost Classics Book Company, began reprinting Henty's books and advocating their usage for conservative homeschoolers. Reprints of all Henty's works are available from modern day British and American publishers. One such publisher and major modern advocate of Henty is the American scientist, homeschool curriculum publisher, and one-time political candidate Arthur B. Robinson, who promotes the use of Henty's books as a supplement to his self-teaching homeschool curriculum.
Even during his lifetime, Henty's work was contentious; some Victorian writers accused Henty's novels of being xenophobic towards non-British people and objected to his glorification of British imperialism in such books as True to the Old Flag (1885) which supports the Loyalist side in the American War of Independence, and In the Reign of Terror (1888) and No Surrender! A Tale of the Rising in La Vendée (1900) which are strongly hostile to the French Revolution. However, In Henty's novel In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce (1885) the hero fights against the English, and bitterly denounces the acts of England's king, Edward I.
Henty's popularity amongst homeschoolers is not without controversy. Quoting from the chapter of By Sheer Pluck called "The Negro Character" ("like children"), American television host and political commentator Rachel Maddow called Henty's writings "spectacularly racist". Carpenter and Pritchard note that while "Henty's work is indeed full of racial (and class) stereotypes", he sometimes created sympathetic ethnic minority characters, such as the Indian servant who marries a white woman in With Clive in India, and point out Henty admired the Turkish Empire. Some even accuse Henty of holding blacks in utter contempt, and this is expressed in novels such as By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War and A Roving Commission, or, Through the Black Insurrection at Hayti. Kathryne S. McDorman states Henty disliked blacks and also, in Henty's fiction, that "Boers and Jews were considered equally ignoble". In By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War, Mr. Goodenough, an entomologist remarks to the hero:
They [Negroes] are just like children ... They are always either laughing or quarrelling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old. ... They are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery
In the Preface to his novel A Roving Commission (1900) Henty claims "the condition of the negroes in Hayti has fallen to the level of that of the savage African tribes" and argues "unless some strong white power should occupy the island and enforce law and order" this situation will not change.
A review by Deirdre H. McMahon in Studies of the Novel in 2010 refers to his novels as jingoist and racist and states that during the previous decade "Numerous reviews in right-wing and conservative Christian journals and websites applaud Henty's texts as model readings and thoughtful presents for children, especially boys. These reviews often ignore Henty's racism by packaging his version of empire as refreshingly heroic and patriotic."
In 1888, on the bookjacket for Captain Bayley's Heir, The Times (of London) writes that Henty's character in With Lee in Virginia, "bravely proving his sympathy with the slaves of brutal masters" and escapes through "the devotion of a black servant and of a runaway slave whom he had assisted". The reviewer recommends the book.
|Title||Title page date|
|A Search for a Secret||1867|
|The March to Magdala||1868|
|All But Lost, Volumes I, II and III||1869|
|Out on the Pampas: The Young Settlers||1871|
|The Young Franc-Tireurs and Their Adventure in the Franco-Prussian War||1872|
|The March to Coomassie||1874|
|The Young Buglers, A Tale of the Peninsular War||1880|
|The Cornet of Horse: A Tale of Marlborough's Wars||1881|
|In Times of Peril: A Tale of India||1881|
|Facing Death, The Hero of the Vaughan Pit - A Tale of the Coal Mines||1882|
|Winning His Spurs: A Tale of the Crusades (aka Boy Knight)||1882|
|Friends Though Divided: A Tale of the Civil War||1883|
|Jack Archer: A Tale of the Crimea||1883|
|Under Drake's Flag: A Tale of the Spanish Main||1883|
|By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War||1884|
|With Clive in India: The Beginnings of an Empire||1884|
|In Freedom's Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce||1885|
|St. George For England: A Tale of Cressy and Poitiers||1885|
|True to the Old Flag: A Tale of the American War of Independence||1885|
|The Young Colonists: A Tale of the Zulu and Boer Wars||1885|
|The Dragon and the Raven, or The Days of King Alfred||1886|
|For Name and Fame: To Cabul with Roberts||1886|
|The Lion of the North: A Tale of Gustavus Adolphus and the Wars of Religion||1886|
|Through the Fray: A Tale of the Luddite Riots||1886|
|Yarns on the Beach: A Bundle of Tales||1886|
|The Bravest of the Brave, or, With Peterborough in Spain||1887|
|A Final Reckoning: A Tale of Bush Life in Australia||1887|
|The Sovereign Reader: Scenes from the Life and Reign of Queen Victoria||1887|
|The Young Carthaginian, A Story of the Time of Hannibal||1887|
|With Wolfe in Canada: The Winning of a Continent||1887|
|Bonnie Prince Charlie: A Tale of Fontenoy and Culloden||1888|
|For the Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem||1888|
|Gabriel Allen M.P.||1888|
|In the Reign of Terror: The Adventures of a Westminster Boy||1888|
|Orange and Green: A Tale of the Boyne and Limerick||1888|
|Sturdy and Strong: How George Andrews Made His Way||1888|
|Captain Bayley's Heir: A Tale of the Gold Fields of California||1889|
|The Cat of Bubastes: A Tale of Ancient Egypt||1889|
|The Curse of Carne's Hold: A Tale of Adventure, Volumes I and II||1889|
|The Lion of St. Mark: A Story of Venice in the Fourteenth Century||1889|
|The Plague Ship||(1889)|
|Tales of Daring and Danger, Five Short Stories||1890|
|By Pike and Dyke: A Tale of the Rise of the Dutch Republic||1890|
|One of the 28th: A Tale of Waterloo||1890|
|With Lee in Virginia, A Story of the American Civil War||1890|
|The Boy Knight: A Tale of the Crusades
(the American title for Winning His Spurs)
|By England's Aid: The Freeing of the Netherlands, 1585-1604||1891|
|By Right of Conquest: With Cortez in Mexico||1891|
|Chapter of Adventures: Through the Bombardment of Alexandria aka The Young Midshipman (USA)||1891|
|A Hidden Foe, Volumes I and II||1891|
|Maori and Settler: A Tale of the New Zealand War||1891|
|Those Other Animals||(1891)|
|The Dash For Khartoum: A Tale of the Nile Expedition||1892|
|Held Fast for England: A Tale of the Siege of Gibraltar (1779-83)||1892|
|The Ranche in the Valley||(1892)|
|Redskin and Cowboy: A Tale of the Western Plains||1892|
|Beric the Briton: A Story of the Roman Invasion||1893|
|Condemned as a Nihilist: A Story of Escape from Siberia||1893|
|In Greek Waters: A Story of the Grecian War of Independence (1821-1827)||1893|
|Rujub, the Juggler, Volumes I, II and III||1893|
|Dorothy's Double: The Story of a Great Deception, Volumes I, II and III||1894|
|A Jacobite Exile: Being the Adventures of a Young Englishman in the Service of Charles XII of Sweden||1894|
|Saint Bartholomew's Eve: A Tale of the Huguenot Wars||1894|
|Through the Sikh War: A Tale of the Conquest of the Punjab||1894|
|In the Heart of the Rockies: A Story of Adventure in Colorado||1895|
|When London Burned: A Story of Restoration Times and the Great Fire||1895|
|Woman of the Commune: A Tale of Two Sieges of Paris
(aka Cuthbert Hartington, A Girl of the Commune,Two Sieges and Two Sieges of Paris
|Wulf The Saxon: A Story of the Norman Conquest||1895|
|A Knight of the White Cross: A Tale of the Siege of Rhodes||1896|
|Through Russian Snows: A Story of Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow||1896|
|The Tiger of Mysore: A Story of the War with Tippoo Saib||1896|
|At Agincourt: A Tale of the White Hoods of Paris||1897|
|On the Irrawaddy: A Story of the First Burmese War||1897|
|The Queen's Cup, A Novel, Volumes I, II and III||1897|
|With Cochrane the Dauntless: A Tale of the Exploits of Lord Cochrane||1897|
|Colonel Thorndyke's Secret (aka The Brahmin's Treasure (USA))||1898|
|A March on London: Being a Story of Wat Tyler's Insurrection||1898|
|With Frederick the Great: A Tale of the Seven Years War||1898|
|With Moore at Corunna: A Tale of the Peninsular War||1898|
|Among Malay Pirates; A Tale of Adventure and Peril||(1899)|
|On the Spanish Main: A Tale of Cuba and the Buccaneers||(1899)|
|At Aboukir and Acre: A Story of Napoleon's Invasion of Egypt||1899|
|Both Sides the Border: A Tale of Hotspur and Glendower||1899|
|The Golden Cañon and The Stone Chest, or The Secret of Cedar Island,
(The Stone Chest is a filler title, not by Henty) (2-in-1 book)
|The Lost Heir||1899|
|Under Wellington's Command: A Tale of the Peninsular War||1899|
|In the Hands of the Cave Dwellers||1900|
|No Surrender! A Tale of the Rising in La Vendée||1900|
|A Roving Commission, or, Through the Black Insurrection at Hayti||1900|
|Won by the Sword: A Story of the Thirty Years War||1900|
|In the Irish Brigade: A Tale of War in Flanders and Spain||1901|
|John Hawke's Fortune: A Story of Monmouth's Rebellion||1901|
|Out With Garibaldi: A Story of the Liberation of Italy||1901|
|Queen Victoria: Scenes from her Life and Reign||1901|
|With Buller in Natal: A Born Leader||1901|
|At the Point of the Bayonet: A Tale of the Mahratta War||1902|
|To Herat and Cabul, A Story of the First Afghan War||1902|
|With Roberts to Pretoria: A Tale of the South African War||1902|
|The Treasure of the Incas: A Tale of Adventure in Peru||1903|
|With Kitchener in the Soudan, A Story of Atbara and Omdurman||1903|
|With the British Legion: A Story of the Carlist Wars||1903|
|Through Three Campaigns: A Story of Chitral, Tirah, and Ashantee||1904|
|With the Allies to Pekin: A Story of the Relief of the Legations||1904|
|Gallant Deeds, Five Short Stories||1905|
|By Conduct and Courage: A Story of Nelson's Days||1905|
|In the Hands of the Malays||1905|
|Among the Bushrangers from A Final Reckoning||1906|
|Indian Raid, An from Redskin and Cowboy||1906|
|Cast Ashore from With Clive in India||1906|
|Charlie Marryat from With Clive in India||1906|
|Cornet Walter from Orange and Green||1906|
|A Highland Chief from In Freedom's Cause||1906|
|The Two Prisoners from A Soldier's Daughter||1906|
|The Young Captain from With Clive in India||1906|
There is one known instance of a book title by Henty having been filmed, along with nine audio theater productions by Heirloom Audio in their series "The Extraordinary Adventures of G. A. Henty": Under Drake's Flag,With Lee In Virginia.,In the Reign of Terror, The Cat of Bubastes, Beric the Briton, The Dragon and the Raven, Wulf the Saxon, Captain Bayley's Heir and In Freedom's Cause. Heirloom Audio's productions have featured several well-known actors, including Golden Globe winner Joanne Froggatt of Downton Abbey and Billy Boyd of The Lord Of The Rings. Heirloom Audio was founded by Illinois businessman Bill Heid, who said of Henty, "He took you to places that had great historical significance. It's historical fiction, yet there's very little fiction." Heid said of the characters portrayed in Henty's books and Heirloom Audio's productions, "Who's a real hero? Jay Cutler or Aaron Rodgers, or Francis Drake? Who had the guts, the belief in God's sovereignty? I want to tell the stories that young people think, 'I could imagine doing something like that.' I want them to dream big. There was a time in our country we really had big dreams, thought we could do big things. For some reason, we don't talk like that, take risks like that." Heid added that too often in schools, "history becomes kind of a data dump, dead guys and dates." But with Henty, "History is anything but boring. It's amazing. William Wallace was a real person, had real struggles of his own. He had hopes and dreams and ambitions, struggles like anyone else, doubts and flaws."
A Final Reckoning (1929), American, B&W: Serial/24 reels
Directed by Ray Taylor.
Cast: Frank Clark [Jim Whitney], Newton House, Louise Lorraine, Jay Wilsey, Edmund Cobb.
Universal Pictures Corporation production; distributed by Universal Pictures Corporation.
Scenario by Basil Dickey and George Morgan, from a novel by George Alfred Henty.
Cinematography by Frank Redman.
Twelve episodes (two reels each):  "A Treacherous Friend," released 15 April 1929. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format. / [?] Website-IMDb lists the release date of the first episode as 15 April 1928.
Audio Theater Productions