Horatio Hornblower

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Name: Horatio Hornblower
Creator: C.S. Forester
Date(s): 1937-1967 (book), 1998-2003 (tv series)
Medium: book series, television series
Country of Origin: UK
External Links: Scaryfangirl (Hornblower fan site) (offline, archived)
ways Archie gets hurt
Paintings of Hornblower's ships by Geoff Hunt RSMA
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Horatio Hornblower (part of Age of Sail umbrella fandom) begins as a midshipman [1] (basically, an apprentice officer) in the Royal Navy, and over the course of the series participates in many of the wars Britain fought with Spain, France, some hijinks with the Ottoman Empire, and... okay, usually France. As he advances through the ranks and proves himself with cleverness, leadership, and tactical skill, Hornblower sheds his insecurity and becomes a more and more important officer in the Navy.

Interestingly, the novel series depicts Hornblower as funnylooking: tall, knobbby-kneed, and physically awkward despite reasonable fighting prowess. As played by Ioan Gruffudd in the TV series, "funnylooking" is not quite the right word.

For a list of related fandoms, see List of Military Fandoms.


Hornblower is a fandom which falls under the umbrella fandom Age of Sail, or AoS.

The story of Horatio Hornblower was originally told in novels and short stories by C. S. Forester. These stories are classic "boys' adventure" stories. A TV series mini-series based on Hornblower's early adventures was made in the 1990s, with followup mini-series through to 2003.

The books and TV series differ considerably in content and in fan following. Specifically, the TV series introduces a sidekick character, Archie Kennedy (played by Jamie Bamber), who existed in only a single sentence in the books. Archie's fate inspired a common AU trope in the fandom.

Horatio/Archie is the primary slash pairing among those who follow the TV series, while Horatio/William Bush (Hornblower's second in command later in the series) is the primary slash pairing among fans of the books. Despite this split, Hornblower slash fandom is still reasonably cohesive, with people participating in shared fannish activities regardless of whether they prefer "bookverse" or "movieverse".

As an Age of Sail fandom, Hornblower has often been part of crossovers with such fandoms as Aubrey-Maturin, Pirates of the Caribbean, Sharpe, and Georgette Heyer.

Stories have been written in this fandom for Yuletide.

The Hornblower fan forum Horatians had a DNS attack in April 2011[2], which necessitated a server move and meant that they lost all posts (although login information was saved). Popular discussions on the site include such topics as "Was Captain Sawyer pushed, or did he fall?" - referring to a specific scene in the Hornblower TV episode Mutiny.

A Fannish Connection to Jim Kirk in Star Trek

Some fanworks describe a connection between Horatio Hornblower and James T. Kirk. In 1972, D.C. Fontana confirmed to fans that Kirk was a descendant of Hornblower. [3]


  • HHUS - "Horatio Hornblower US" - an annual Hornblower convention held in various locations in North America and in the UK. When held in the UK, the convention acronym is HHUK.

Example Fanworks

A paper doll titled Mr Midshipman Hornblower, by Juliet
Mr. Midshipman Hornblower paper doll by Juliet, from HHUS 2006.




Mailing Lists

  • a slash list on Onelist (in July 1999, there were 40-45 members, "The list is "unlisted" at Onelist, so if you're interested write to the listmom, Cap'n Georgia")



Fansites and Archives

Mailing Lists

  • Hornblower Frolix [unknown url] Description: For slash discussion and fiction, created in June 2001 or before.
  • sailslash archive link Description: "Welcome Aboard the list for writers of Age of Sail Slash, their readers and friends, to share their work-in-progress, help each other, chat and generally enthuse about the heroic days of sail. Think BIG sailing ships, think Pirates (in the Carribean or otherwise), think Nelson, think Hornblower, Aubrey and Maturin (Master and Commander) or Ramage and Bolitho. Slash? - homo-erotic fiction, often fan-fiction with characters from films or books (- if this makes you uncomfortable you are unlikely to enjoy the list). Work-in-Progress? - unfinished writing, that the author shares with others for feedback, discussion and helpful suggestions. The focus of the list is writing and history, but we also like to chat about a lot of other interests that we have in common! You can read the general guidelines for the list here, and if you have any other questions, now or later, contact the Mates of the Watch, Indy, Lisa, Su and Atropos. WARNING: This list deals with adult themes, including samesex relationships. Membership is limited to people over the age of consent in their own culture."
  • CaptainsCabin archive link Description: "Slash list for fiction and discussion for fans of Horatio Hornblower's Captain Sir Edward Pellew (Robert Lindsay). For fans 18 and older."
  • Hhfic


  1. ^ See: Wikipedia:Midshipman
  2. ^ Horatians.org LJ post
  3. ^ "QUESTION: It said that Kirk was some how related to Horatio Hornblower. Are there any other characters who have their basis in other novels? ANSWER: None that I can think of off hand. As you may or may not know, Hornblower and Mr Forrester have long been favorites of Gene Roddenberry, and the essential premise of man alone with warships at sea, and the many perils they then faced are similar to what we proposed the Enterprise to be. And in that sense, yes. Captain Kirk is descended from Hornblower and he's the only character that has that genesis." -- from a panel transcript from Star Trek Lives!