A SURVEY OF THE WRITINGS OF ALAN VILLIERS
The purpose of this survey is to list the extensive range of Villiers titles and to place them in some order so that the interested reader may see "where they fit" and be able to locate titles which may be of interest.
There are approximately 50 titles credited to Villiers in whole or significant part - not including works published in periodicals. Hence it can be somewhat difficult to identify works that are most significant and readily available in libraries or for purchase. Villiers' work can be roughly divided into 7 types of works. These are
Chronicles /Auto -biographical
Many of Villiers most important works are personal narratives based on his participation in the event and hence have both the attributes of a chronicle and a biography which gives rise to the first category.
Villiers also had an extensive library and kept a large range of papers covering historical aspects of life on the sea. Using these he wrote a range of interesting works which are categorized as Historical Surveys. These also include some general "coffee table" type works.
Fortunately for history Villiers was also a photographer of note and several books cover some of his photographic works.
Anthologies are simply some compiled works of stories for which Villiers acted as an editor.
Villiers also used his experiences to write a number of books for younger teenagers and children.
Monographs are usually shorter publications covering one topic only. Villiers can be credited with several of these.
Finally Villiers is known to have written several novels but only one was published. Villiers claims that it was poorly written purposely as part of a strategy to get out of a contract. It is very rare now and has not been seen by this author.
Another characteristic of Villiers titles is that several have been published in the same year in London and the USA under different titles. These are noted in the following outline.
1. CHRONICLES/AUTO-BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS
THE FIRST TWO WORKS
VILLIERS, A. J. (1924). To the frozen south. Hobart [Tasmania], Davies Bros.
A compilation of the articles from "The Mercury" of May and June 1924 published by the newspaper itself. This is the first of Villiers "published" work. It was a limited edition of 3852. It is now very rare. A quarto size document of 96 pages which has a large photograph on each facing page. The writing style is fresh and exciting showing Villiers talent even at the age of 20. The photographs are facinating. This volume is referenced by Villiers in "The Set of the Sails" (Hodder and Stoughton p161) as "My articles on the whaling voyage had done so well in Australia that the Mercury reissued them in a sort of book form. The title of this work was To the Frozen South, and it was, I suppose, my first book. It was not really a book. It was simply a bound repring of the articles and their illustrations, from the same type and the same blocks." Villiers goes on to explain how it found its way to a publisher and launched his literary career.
VILLIERS, A. (1925). Whaling in the frozen south, being the story of the 1923-24 Norwegian whaling expedition to the Antarctic. Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill co.
An expansion of "To the Frozen South" and Villiers' first official book. As with much of his writing Villiers manages to capture, as a participant, changes in the technological, social and economic use of the sea. This book records the transition of whaling practices to the use of factory ships but before the use of slipways. He describes in depth the many hardships of the workers in particular dealing with whales in rough seas and freezing conditions.
THE GRAIN RACE TRILOGY
The following three titles are part of what Villiers calls a Trilogy. They cover three voyages of the 'Grain Race' with which Villiers was involved.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1929). Falmouth for orders; the story of the last clipper ship race around Cape Horn. New York, H. Holt and Co.
Villiers documents the 96 day voyage of the Herzogin Cecilie to Falmouth.
VILLIERS, A., & WALKER, R. G. (1930). By way of Cape Horn. Charles Scribner's Sons,
After returning to Australia by passenger vessel Villiers joined the Grace Harwar "…a dog with a bad name" for a 138 voyage which saw his friend killed.
VILLIERS, A. (1933). Voyage of the Parma : the great grain race of 1932 from Australia to Falmouth by way of Cape Horn. London : Geoffrey Bles
Also published in the U.S. as : Grain race. New York, C. Scribner's Sons (1933)
The voyage of the 4-masted barque Parma from Austrailia to England. This is the 3rd book in a trilogy written by the author to complete "the picture which I set out to give of the graceful wind ships before the last of them departed".
VILLIERS' BEST KNOWN WORK
VILLIERS, A. J. (1937). Cruise of the Conrad : a journal of a voyage round the world, undertaken and carried out in the ship Joseph Conrad, 212 tons, in the years 1934, 1935 and 1936 by way of Good Hope, the East Indies, the South Seas and Cape Horn. London, Hodder & Stoughton limited.
This is recognized as the last full rigged ship to round the world by the Horn. Pretty much a straight forward account of the voyage and the various adventures involved. One of Villiers major works.
CRONICLES OF A PASSING AGE
The following are Villiers most historically important works:
VILLIERS, A. J. (1940). Sons of Sindbad : an account of sailing with the Arabs in their dhows, in the Red Sea, round the coasts of Arabia, and to Zanzibar and Tanganyika ; pearling in the Persian gulf ; and the life of the shipmasters and the mariners of Kuwait. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
As the title reveals Villiers extends the narrative past a simple examination of the sailing craft into the whole of the socal/economic analysis of that society. This makes it one of (several) Villiers most important works. The National Geographic (November 1948) contains an article by Villiers on this with 9 Illustrations and map.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1951). The quest for the schooner Argus; a voyage to the Banks and Greenland. London, Hodder and Stoughton.
One of Villiers major works. Records cod fishing by the Portuguese off the Grand Banks. Note the May 1952 National Geographic contains a extensive article with color pictures of this story.
The following two titles are autobiographical works covering a number of decades rather than focusing on a single voyage.
VILLIERS, A. (1949). The set of the sails : the story of a Cape Horn seaman. New York, Charles Scribner's Sons.
The first of Villiers two autobiographical overview writings. Covers his family and early voyages, his work as a reporter, a chapter on each of the Grain Race voyages and includes a short section on his WWII experiences which is slightly further elaborated in Monsoon Seas. Essential reading to understand Villiers' life and works, well written and interesting throughout.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1958). Give me a ship to sail. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
The second of Villiers' autobiographical recollections. Starts off with a rather hilarious account of sailing the Pequodfor the movie version of Moby Dick. Half the book is given over to an account of the sailing of the Mayflower II.
2. HISTORICAL SURVEYS
In some 13 volumes Villiers has used his extensive experience and skills at research to provide a survey of the history of sail and man's use of the oceans. Often these are written in Villiers typical narative style interspersed with personal experiences.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1931). Vanished fleets : ships and men of old Van Diemen's land. Garden City, N.Y., Garden City Pub. Co.
A range of stories derived from about a years research in Tasmania. Contains a forword written on the Ship Grace Harwar Glasgow 1929.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1936). Convict ships and sailors. London, Philip Allan & Co.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1949). The Coral Sea. Oceans of the world. McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. New York
James A Michener reviewed this in The New York Times May 8 1949 saying "The Coral Sea has now found and excellent chronicler… In precise prose and rell-reasoned passages, Captain Villiers recounts the history of this sea. … The book is well rounded, well written and satisfying."
VILLIERS, A. J. (1952). The Indian Ocean. London, Museum Press.
Also published as Monsoon Seas: The Story of the Indian Ocean. New York, McGraw-Hill (1952). .
Reviewed by William Mcfee in The New York Times June 15, 1952 who says, "Villiers…blends history and personal adventure into a fast growing narrative. No other living writer is better fitted to do a book of this type."
VILLIERS, A. J. (1953). The way of a ship; being some account of the ultimate development of the ocean-going square-rigged sailing vessel, and the manner of her handling, her voyage-making, her personnel, her economics, her performance, and her end. New York, Scribner.
An examination of some of the technical and social structures involved in the sailing a full rig ship. Includes chapters on ship historical development, ship handling under sail, economics and life under sail, the Clipper ship and training ships.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1956). Posted missing; the story of ships lost without trace in recent years. New York, Scribner.
A look at over 50 years of records on missing ships. Includes some informed and interesting opinions designed to enhance the welfare and safety of seafarers.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1957). The Western Ocean; the story of the North Atlantic. London, Museum Press.
Also published as Wild ocean; the story of the North Atlantic and the men who sailed it. New York, McGraw-Hill (1957).
VILLIERS, A. (1967). Captain James Cook. New York, Scribner.
Also published as Captain Cook: the seaman's seaman; Illustrated by Adrian Small. London: Hodder and Stoughton (1967).
A fairly straight forward biographical outline of Cook's expeditions enhanced by Villiers' expertise and writing style.
VILLIERS, A. (1971). The war with Cape Horn. New York, Scribner.
The history of the great sailing ships that battled through the western rounding of Cape Horn
VILLIERS, A., & PICARD, H. (1972). The bounty ships of France; the story of the French Cape Horn sailing ships. New York, Scribner.
This book is in two parts. The first 68 pages are written by Villiers and include a comparison of the system under which English and French full rigged ships operated and sailers worked. The French system was very much better for the sailor. The second part is a 'list' of the French ships which includes brief history and some pictures. An important historical analysis but not story based as in most of Villier's work.
VILLIERS, A. (1974). Posted missing; the story of ships lost without trace in recent years. New York, Scribner's.
An examination of some 50 years of missing ships with some analysis and recommendations to improve safety of seafarers.
VILLIERS, A. (1962). Men, ships, and the sea. The story of man library. Washington, National Geographic Society.
A panoramic view of the history of man on the sea from early rafts and Egyptain galleys to Marco Polo, the Armada, Nelson, Cape Horners and nuclear subs.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1963). The ocean; man's conquest of the sea. New York,
Also published as Oceans of the world; man's conquest of the sea. London, Museum Press. (1963).
Aspects of the varied and interesting story of the ocean: sailing with Arabs, Maldivians, Trobriands. Square-rigger and nuclear ship.
Four volumes comprising mainly photographs were published over the years 1932 - 1955. Two recent editions have been released but are not mentioned here.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1932). The sea in ships, the story of a sailing ship's voyage round cape Horn. London, G. Routledge and sons ltd.
The story of a sailing ship's voyage round Cape Horn. Photos taken on two voyages, one aboard the Herzogin Cecilie from Port Lincoln to Falmouth in 1928 and the one on the Grace Harwar from Wallaroo to Queenstown in 1929 Contains11 pages of text followed by 111 black and white photographs plus a fold-out drawing of ship
VILLIERS, A. (1934). Last of the wind ships. New York, W. Morrow.
59 pages. 208 black-and-white photographs. Maps. The 83-day voyage of the four-masted barque 'Parma' of Mariehamn in 1933.
VILLIERS, A., (1938). The making of a sailor : the photographic story of schoolships under sail. New York, W. Morrow.
A compilation of some 200 photographs.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1955). Sailing Eagle; the story of the Coast Guard's square-rigger. New York, Scribner.
Superb photographic record of U.S. Coastguard sail training barque. Over 200 illus. 192pp.
VILLIERS, A. (1931). Sea dogs of to-day. New York, H. Holt.
325 pp, appendix, frontis plate, plus 11 additional plates Chapter headings include: Carl Anton Larsen, Master Whaler * The Heroes * The John Stewart Line * Good Ships--and Bad * The Last Voyage of the "Monkbairns" * The "Garths" of Montreal * Sea Cook Who Became Sea King * Erikson Masters and Erikson Ships * Thirty-Six Times Around Cape Horn * Trawlermen of the Far North * Foster of the "Trevassa" * From 'Prentice Boy to "Majestic" * Ronald Walker and the "Windjammer" Film * Missing Ships * and * Sea Dogs of To-Day--
VILLIERS, A. J. (1956). Pioneers of the seven seas. London, Routledge & Paul.
A gallimaufry of maritime writings
VILLIERS, A. J. (1959). Great sea stories. New York, Dell.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1962). Of ships and men, a personal anthology. London Newnes
Villiers has chosen pieces from the works of some of the greatest writers of the sea and has related them to his own life and wide-range of personal experience at sea. Divided into six main themes:- Before Going to Sea - Windjammer Days - Steamships - Little Ships - War
VILLIERS, A. (1972). My favourite sea stories. Guildford, Lutterworth Press.
VILLIERS, A., Pont, Charles E (1934). Whalers of the midnight sun; a story of modern whaling in the Antarctic. New York, C. Scribner's sons.
A novellet For teenagers based on Whaling in the Frozen North.
VILLIERS, A. (1937). Stormalong; the story of a boy's voyage around the world in a full-rigged ship. New York, C. Scribner's sons.
VILLIERS, A. (1939). Joey goes to sea. New York, C. Scribner's Sons.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1953). Pilot Pete. New York, Scribner.
Children's picture book - The whales get away.
VILLIERS, A. (1953). And not to yield; a story of the Outward Bound School of adventure. New York, Scribner.
A novellet for teenagers.
VILLIERS, A. (1958). The new 'Mayflower'. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons
Childrens picture book.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1959). The windjammer story. New York, Scholastic Book Services. 64 pp
Based on the Louis de Rochemont Cinemiracle Production "Windjammer", distributed by National Theaters, Inc.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1965). The Battle of Trafalgar; Lord Nelson sweeps the sea. New York, Macmillan.
Concise account of the campaign & battle, aimed at younger readers. Illustrated. 96 pages.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1924). To the frozen south. Hobart [Tasmania], Davies Bros.
Already mentioned as his first book but it rightly fits here.
VILLIERS, A. (1928) The truth about our fruit : the Mercury's investigation in England, Hobart : Mercury
55 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. Notes Compilation of articles written between June 12 and July 26, 1928.
VILLIERS, A. (1952). The Cutty Sark; last of a glorious era. London, Hodder and Stoughton.
Charts the career of the Cutty Sark from her design and construction until her final voyage to the Thames. Well illustrated approx 96 pages.
VILLIERS, A. J. (1955) Two stories in the life of a ship Balclutha. San Francisco : Kalmbach Publishing
also Wreck of the ship Balclutha / by Roger R. Olmsted. 11pp
VILLIERS, A. J. (1957). 'The Navigators' and the Merchant Navy. Glasgow, Brown, Son & Ferguson.
This is the story about the creation of "The Navigators." The Navigators are a group that was formed in the 1920's to improve the working conditions and retirement pensions of sailors in the British Merchant Navy. This group of former Merchant Navy officers and engineers worked with the General Insurance Company and the ship owners/operators to provide benefits for the officers and sailors.
VILLIERS, A. (1975). Voyaging with the wind : an introduction to sailing large square-rigged ships. London, H.M. Stationery Off. : 61 pages Publisher: obtainable from Pendragon House (1975)
VILLIERS, A. (1970). The deep sea fishermen. London, Hodder & Stoughton.
A long monograph covering the life and dangers faced by trawlermen operating out of British ports.
VILLIERS, A. J.(1928). The Wind Ship, Hurst & Blackett, Ltd
Deliberately written poorly according to Villiers to help break a legal contract. Rare.
Any additions or recommendations on this list are welcome.