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Captain Blood

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Rafael Sabatini was born in Jesi, Italy to an English mother and Italian father. His parents were opera singers who 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 seventeen, when he returned to England to live permanently, he was the master of 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. It took Sabatini roughly a quarter of a century of hard work before he attained success with Scaramouche in 1921. This brilliant novel of the French Revolution became an international best-seller. It was followed by the equally successful Captain Blood in 1922. All of his earlier books were rushed into reprints, the most popular of which was The Sea Hawk from 1915. Sabatini was a prolific writer; he produced a new book approximately every year. While he perhaps didn’t achieve the mammoth success of Scaramouche and Captain Blood, nonetheless Sabatini still maintained a great deal of popularity with the reading public through the decades that followed. The public knew that in picking up a Sabatini book, they could always count upon a good read, and his following was loyal and extensive. By the 1940s, illness forced the writer to slow his prolific method of composition. However, he did write several additional works even during that time. He died February 13, 1950 in Switzerland. He is buried at Adelboden, Switzerland. On his head stone his wife had written, “He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad,” the first line of his best-known work, Scaramouche. He is best known for his world-wide bestsellers: * The Sea Hawk (1915), a tale of the Spanish Armada and the pirates of the Barbary Coast; * Scaramouche (1921), a tale of the French Revolution in which a fugitive hides out in a commedia dell’arte troupe; * Captain Blood (1922), in which the title character is admiral of a fleet of pirate ships (Sabatini also wrote two sequels); and * Bellarion the Fortunate (1926), about a cunning young man who finds himself immersed in the politics of fifteenth-century Italy. The first three of these books have been made into notable films in the sound era — in 1940, 1952, and 1935, respectively. However, the silent films of his novels, less well known, are also notable. His second novel was made into a famous “lost” film, Bardelys the Magnificent, directed in 1926 by King Vidor with John Gilbert in the lead, and long viewable only in a fragment excerpted in Vidor’s silent comedy Show People. A few intact reels have recently been discovered in Europe. Two silent adaptations of Sabatini novels which do survive intact are Rex Ingram’s Scaramouche (1923) starring Ramon Novarro, and The Sea Hawk (1924) directed by Frank Lloyd and starring Milton Sills. This is actually a more faithful adaptation than the 1940 remake with Errol Flynn. A 1924 silent version of Captain Blood, starring J. Warren Kerrigan, is partly lost, surviving only in an incomplete copy in the Library of Congress. In all, he produced thirty one novels, eight short story collections, six nonfiction books, numerous uncollected short stories, and a play. Source: Wikipedia

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