Patrick O'Brian Chronology Problems

The up-Café thread on chronological problems in movies and TV shows reminds me of a question I’ve been meaning to ask awhile.

Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin series makes some rather remarkable jumps, only to get stuck for an inordinate amount of time in the “long year” 1813. I’m wondering if anybody who’s read O’Brian’s biography or what have you can shed some light on O’Brian’s reasons for this. I believe three novels are set between 1800-1804 (Master and Commander, Post-Captain, and HMS Surprise). Then, for no good reason that I can fathom, O’Brian jumps to The Mauritius Command in 1810.

What was the reason for this? There was after all enough going on in 1805-09 that O’Brian could have covered.

1805 was the year Napoleon was defeated at Trafalgar, which put an end to most of his naval efforts, thus giving our British naval heros not much to do until the war of 1812 gave Aubrey something to work with in 1813.

I once read a quote from O’Brian saying that if he had it to do over again he would’ve set the books a few years earlier so that he could’ve taken advantage of the naval actions earlier in the Napoleonic wars.

Apologies, I forgot to reply to this.

I appreciate the suggestion, but I don’t think that’s it. As noted, Jack gets employment again in 1810, with plenty to do; and a cursory glance through the books suggests a couple of interesting actions: Seahorse against two Turkish ships in 1808, several frigate actions in the Bay of Biscay and off Toulon in 1809, besides that O’Brian might have simply invented something, as he did the Polychrest.

I guess it’ll never be known why O’Brian thought he must jump six years…

My understanding is that at the time he didn’t see any reason not to jump six years. IOW, he had no idea the series would run for 20 books and he would need to bend time in order to not run out of War before he ran out of stories to tell.

I think if he had known how long the series would run, he would have paced it differently; he said as much. But why would he invent some other story to set in 1806 instead of telling the story he wanted to tell, The Mauritius Command, which was rightly set in 1810?

I think the reasoning against the four year jump depends on him thinking, “I’m going to be writing these books for 25 years; I’d better pace myself and hold this great story in abeyance while I write something else, something chronologically earlier.” But there’s no reason he would have necessarily thought that at the time he was writing MC.