Rafael Sabatini (29 April 1875 – 13 February 1950) was an Italian-English writer of romance and adventure novels.
He is best known for his worldwide bestsellers: The Sea Hawk (1915), Scaramouche (1921), Captain Blood (a.k.a. The Odyssey of Captain Blood) (1922), and Bellarion the Fortunate (1926).
In all, Sabatini produced 31 novels, eight short story collections, six non-fiction books, numerous uncollected short stories, and several plays.
Rafael Sabatini was born in Iesi, Italy, to an English mother (Anna Trafford) and Italian father. His parents were opera singers who then became teachers.
At a young age, Rafael was exposed to many languages, living with his grandfather in England, attending school in Portugal, and, as a teenager, in Switzerland. By the time he was 17, when he returned to England to live permanently, he had become proficient in five languages. He quickly added a sixth language – English – to his linguistic collection. He consciously chose to write in his adopted language, because, he said, “all the best stories are written in English".
After a brief stint in the business world, Sabatini went to work as a writer. He wrote short stories in the 1890s, and his first novel came out in 1902. In 1905, he married Ruth Goad Dixon, the daughter of a Liverpool merchant. It took Sabatini roughly a quarter of a century of hard work before he attained success with Scaramouche in 1921. The novel, an historical romance set during the French Revolution, became an international bestseller. It was followed by the equally successful Captain Blood (1922). All of his earlier books were rushed into reprints, the most popular of which was The Sea Hawk (1915). Sabatini was a prolific writer; he produced a new book approximately every year and maintained a great deal of popularity with the reading public through the decades that followed.
Several of his novels were adapted into films during the silent era,[which?] and the first three of these books were made into notable films in the sound era, in 1940, 1952, and 1935 respectively.[which?] His third novel was made into a famous "lost" film, Bardelys the Magnificent (1926), directed by King Vidor, starring John Gilbert, and long viewable only in a fragment excerpted in Vidor's silent comedy Show People (1928). A few intact reels have recently been discovered in Europe. The fully restored version premièred on TCM on 11 January 2010.
Two silent adaptations of Sabatini novels which do survive intact are Rex Ingram's Scaramouche (1923) starring Ramón Novarro, and The Sea Hawk (1924) directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Milton Sills. The 1940 film The Sea Hawk, with Errol Flynn, is not a remake but a wholly new story which just used the title. A silent version of Captain Blood (1924), starring J. Warren Kerrigan, is partly lost, surviving only in an incomplete copy in the Library of Congress. The Black Swan (1942) was filmed starring Tyrone Power and Maureen O'Hara.
Sabatini's only son, Rafael-Angelo (nicknamed Binkie), was killed in a car crash on 1 April 1927. In 1931, Sabatini and his wife Ruth divorced. Later that year he moved from London to Clifford, Herefordshire, near Hay-on-Wye. In 1935, he married the sculptor Christine Dixon (née Wood), his former sister-in-law. They suffered further tragedy when Christine's son, Lancelot Dixon, was killed in a flying accident on the day he received his RAF wings; he flew his aeroplane over his family's house, but the plane went out of control and crashed in flames right before the observers' eyes.
By the 1940s, illness forced Sabatini to slow his prolific method of composition, though he did write several works during that time.
Sabatini died in Switzerland February 13, 1950. He was buried in Adelboden, Switzerland. On his headstone his wife had written, "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad", the first line of Scaramouche.
- Tales of the Brethren of the Main (a series of short stories first published in Premier Magazine from 1920–1921)[a]
- Captain Blood (also known as Captain Blood: His Odyssey, 1922), in which the title character is admiral of a fleet of pirate ships.
- Captain Blood Returns (also known as The Chronicles of Captain Blood, 1931)[b][c]
- The Fortunes of Captain Blood (1936)[b]
- The Lovers of Yvonne (also known as The Suitors of Yvonne, 1902)
- The Tavern Knight (1904)
- Bardelys the Magnificent (1906)
- The Trampling of the Lilies (1906)
- Love-At-Arms: Being a narrative excerpted from the chronicles of Urbino during the dominion of the High and Mighty Messer Guidobaldo da Montefeltro (1907)
- The Shame of Motley (1908)
- St. Martin's Summer (also known as The Queen's Messenger, 1909)
- Mistress Wilding (also known as Anthony Wilding, 1910)
- The Lion's Skin (1911)
- The Strolling Saint (1913)
- The Gates of Doom (1914)
- The Sea Hawk (1915), a tale of an Elizabethan Englishman among the pirates of the Barbary Coast.
- The Snare (1917)
- Fortune's Fool (1923)
- The Carolinian (1924)
- Bellarion the Fortunate (1926), about a cunning young man who finds himself immersed in the politics of fifteenth-century Italy.
- The Nuptials of Corbal (1927)
- The Hounds of God (1928)
- The Romantic Prince (1929)
- The Reaping (1929)
- The King's Minion (also known as The Minion, 1930)
- The Black Swan (1932)
- The Stalking Horse (1933)
- Venetian Masque (1934)
- Chivalry (1935)
- The Lost King (1937)
- The Sword of Islam (1939)
- The Marquis of Carabas (also known as Master-At-Arms, 1940)
- Columbus (1941)
- King In Prussia (also known as The Birth of Mischief, 1944)
- The Gamester (1949)
- The Justice of the Duke (1912)
- The Banner of the Bull (1915)
- Turbulent Tales (1946)[d]
- Saga of the Sea (omnibus comprising The Sea Hawk, The Black Swan and Captain Blood, 1953)
- Sinner, Saint And Jester: A Trilogy in Romantic Adventure (omnibus comprising The Snare, The Strolling Saint and The Shame of Motley, 1954)
- In the Shadow of the Guillotine (omnibus comprising Scaramouche, The Marquis of Carabas and The Lost King, 1955)
- A Fair Head of Angling Stories (1989)
- The Fortunes of Casanova and Other Stories (1994, stories originally published 1907–1921 & 1934)
- The Outlaws of Falkensteig (2000, stories originally published 1900–1902)
- The Camisade: And Other Stories of the French Revolution (2001, stories originally published 1900–1916)
- The Evidence of the Sword and Other Mysteries, ed. Jesse Knight (Crippen & Landru, 2006, stories originally published 1898-1916)
- A Century of Sea Stories (1935)
- A Century of Historical Stories (1936)
- The Life of Cesare Borgia (1912)
- Torquemada and the Spanish Inquisition: A History (1913)
- The Historical Nights' Entertainment (1917)[e]
- The Historical Nights' Entertainment – Series 2 (1919)[e]
- The Historical Nights' Entertainment – Series 3 (1938)[e]
- Heroic Lives (1934)
- ^Most of the stories were woven together by the author to form Captain Blood, and two that were not were included in Captain Blood Returns.
- ^ abN.B. Captain Blood Returns and The Fortunes of Captain Blood are not sequels, but collections of short stories set entirely within the timeframe of the original novel.
- ^One of the stories from this collection, "The Treasure Ship", was reprinted as a standalone paperback in 2004.
- ^Includes several stories about Alessandro Cagliostro, and one connected to Captain Blood.
- ^ abcThe Historical Nights' Entertainment stories are 'factions' – truth so far as anyone knows it, embellished with imagination. Some are actually apocryphal, not even history.
Order Nr. 102816
A biography and comprehensive bibliography of novelist Rafael Sabatini (1875-1950) is being presented here for the first time anywhere. Sabatini is one of the most prolific and widely read novelists of the twentieth century, specializing in making history come alive through his fictional characterizations and his unique ability to use history as a background for fiction. Sabatini, half Italian but living and writing in England, was the master of romantic historical novels and has rightly been called by Jesse Knight "The Last of the Great Swashbucklers." He was so immersed in his writing of historical fiction that he often referred to himself as a "man out of his own time." Not only did he write interesting and well-told stories of romance and adventure, but he inspired movies that were just as popular has his books. Sabatini's three most popular swashbuckling stories, still being read today, are Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk, and Scaramouche, and each has been made into at least two movies. No author has better captured the imagination of so many with fiction filled with intrigues, escapes, romantic loves, devilish plots, and sword play.
This new book includes a thirty-page illustrated biography of the life of Sabatini written by the late Jesse F. Knight, who was the foremost expert on his life and works. It also contains a bibliography of the first US and UK editions, as well as other significant editions, of all forty-seven of his books, prepared by Stephen Darley. The bibliography also identifies all of the short story collections that have been published either in the US, the UK, or both. It describes all of the dust jackets, with color photos of many, which are important to collectors and sellers.
Book collectors and all who love Sabatini's fiction will find this book an invaluable guide for determining the accuracy of first edition offerings, for understanding what dust jackets are available, or for developing a library of Sabatini's novels.
Jesse F. Knight was a freelance writer for most of his life and crafted hundreds of short stories and articles. He was the foremost expert on the life and works of Rafael Sabatini, writing countless articles on the author, editing several collections of Sabatini short stories, and serving as president of the Rafael Sabatini Society. After a lifetime spent promoting romanticism, individualism, and all things heroic, he died in 2008 at the age of 62 in Vancouver, Washington.
Stephen Darley has a law degree from George Washington University and owned a real estate development and construction firm from 1972 until his recent retirement. Mr. Darley published a joint article with Jesse Knight on Rafael Sabatini in Firsts Magazine (March 2001), an article on Leslie Turner White in November 2004, and an article on Dale L. Morgan in June 2008. He has written articles on the Revolutionary War for three different historical publications and is currently completing a book on the 1775 expedition to Quebec led by Benedict Arnold. He lives in Connecticut with his wife Peggy.