Alexander Kent First Editions

The following Richard and Adam Bolitho novels by Alexander Kent are listed in historical chronological order. Cover images and descriptions are from the dustwrappers of British hardcover first editions.


Arrow Books, 1975

Combines Richard Bolitho, Midshipman and Midshipman Bolitho and the Avenger in one omnibus volume.


Hutchinson, 1975

Richard Bolitho - MidshipmanIn October 1772 Richard Bolitho waits at Portsmouth to join the Gorgon, a seventy-four gun ship of the line. Although only sixteen, Midshipman Bolitho is already a veteran of four years in the King’s Navy, and is determined that in this, his second ship, he will not make the mistakes or forget the lessons of his earlier experiences in the hard and demanding ways of the sea.

Many of the ship’s company are new and untrained, and when the hazards of bad weather, and the relentless hardships which are the daily lot of the common sailor, begin to show themselves, the midshipmen soon discover that authority, no matter how junior, is no easy thing.

England is at peace with her old enemies, France and Spain, but the growing menace of piracy across the trade routes, worsened by rich and brutal trade of slavery between Africa and the Americas, make sea travel no less perilous.
Gorgon's captain is ordered to take his ship to Africa's west coast and ‘show the flag’, and by example and swift action to destroy those who challenge his authority.

From the captain down to the midshipmen it becomes evident that their new enemy is as dangerous and as skilful as any who fights in the line of battle.


Hutchinson, 1978

Midshipman Bolitho and the 'Avenger'This story is set in the winter of 1773, in and around the West Country of England. Midshipman Bolitho’s ship, the Gorgon, is laid up for refit, and he with some other ‘young gentlemen’ is allowed home for Christmas. Bolitho, now seventeen, returns to his family in Falmouth, taking with him his best friend and fellow midshipman, Martyn Dancer. Bolitho soon discovers that all is not well in Cornwall. There are rumours of an increase in smuggling, even of witchcraft, and when a murdered man is found near the Bolitho house, ugly rumour becomes reality. Wreck-ing, the most savage of all crimes, is a further cause for alarm.

Only a small and agile man-of-war can be of use against such restless enemies. To Falmouth comes one such vessel, the Avenger, and thoughts of a carefree leave are quickly forgotten by Richard Bolitho, especially when he learns the name of the Avenger's commander.


William Heinemann, 2005

Band Of BrothersIn this, the long-awaited conclusion of Alexander Kent’s Midshipman Trilogy, the new year of 1774 seems to offer Richard Bolitho and his friend Martyn Dancer the culmination of a dream. Both have been recommended for promotion, although they have not yet gained the coveted lieutenant's commission.

But a routine passage from Plymouth to Guernsey in an untried schooner becomes, for Bolitho, a passage from midshipman to King’s officer, tempering the promise of the future with the bitter price of maturity.


Hutchinson, 1980

Stand Into DangerThe year is 1774 and Bolitho is now a newly appointed third lieutenant joining the 28-gun frigate Destiny at Plymouth. It is a far step from midshipman’s berth to wardroom — and at a time when most of the fleet is laid up Bolitho is considered fortunate.

Bolitho’s promotion is tinged by personal sadness, but his new captain soon points out that Bolitho’s loyalty is to him, the ship and His Britannic Majesty — in that order. Despatched on a secret mission far south to Rio and then to the Caribbean, Destiny and her company face the hazards of conspiracy, treason and piracy — and, as the little ship sails on, Bolitho has to learn amid broadside battles at sea and the clash of swords in hand-to-hand actions how to accept his new responsibilities as a King’s officer.


Hutchinson, 1977

The tenth Richard Bolitho novel in Alexander Kent’s spectacularly successful series deals with Bolitho’s life as a young lieutenant aboard the Trojan, an eighty-gun ship of the line. In sequence the events take place immediately before those covered by Sloop of War, hailed by the Evening Standard as both ‘truly stirring stuff’ and ‘historically and technically accurate.’

The year is 1777 when the revolution in America has erupted into a full-scale war. The navy’s main task is to prevent military supplies from reaching Washington’s armies and to destroy the fast-growing fleet of French and American privateers. As a junior officer Bolitho is often bewildered by swiftly changing events, but in a ship of the line, under a hard and determined captain, he has little opportunity for uncertainty. At a time of shortages and sudden death even a lieutenant can find himself faced with tasks and decisions more suitably given to officers of greater experience — and as the Trojan goes about her affairs the threat to Bolitho and his companions makes itself felt from New York to the Caribbean.