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Martin Rattler   By: (1825-1894)

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"MARTIN RATTLER" was one of, Robert Michael Ballantyne's early books. Born at Edinburgh in 1825,[1] he was sent to Rupert's Land as a trading clerk in the Hudson Bay Fur Company's service when he left school, a boy of sixteen. There, to relieve his home sickness, he first practised his pen in long letters home to his mother. Soon after his return to Scotland in 1848 he published a first book on Hudson's Bay. Then he passed some years in a Scottish publisher's office; and in 1855 a chance suggestion from another publisher led to his writing his first book for boys "Snowflakes and Sunbeams, or The Young Fur Traders." That story showed he had found his vocation, and he poured forth its successors to the tune in all of some fourscore volumes. "Martin Rattler" appeared in 1858. In his "Personal Reminiscences" Ballantyne wrote: "How many thousands of lads have an intense liking for the idea of a sailor's life!" and he pointed out there the other side of the romantic picture: the long watches "in dirty unromantic weather," and the hard work of holystoning the decks, scraping down the masts and cleaning out the coal hole. But though his books show something of this reverse side too, there is no doubt they have helped to set many boys dreaming of

"Wrecks, buccaneers, black flags, and desert lands On which, alone, the second Crusoe stands."

[Footnote 1: See Note to "The Coral Island" in this series.]

Among these persuasions to the life of adventure "Martin Rattler" is still one of the favourite among all his books. Ballantyne himself was fated to die on foreign soil in 1894, at Rome, where he lies buried in the English Protestant cemetery.

The following is a list of Ballantyne's chief romances, tales of adventure, and descriptive works:

"Hudson's Bay, or Every day Life in the Wilds of North America," etc., 1848; "Snowflakes and Sunbeams, or the Young Fur Traders," 1856. In 1857 and 1858 appeared, under the pseudonym of "Comus": "The Butterfly's Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast" (in verse by Roscoe), ed. with music, coloured illustrations, and a prose version; "Mister Fox"; "My Mother"; "The Robber Kitten" (by the author of "Three Little Kittens"). "The Coral Island, a Tale of the Pacific Ocean" (with a preface subscribed "Ralph Rover"), 1858 (1857); "Ungava, a Tale of Esquimaux Land," 1858 (1857); "Martin Rattler, or a Boy's Adventures in the Forests of Brazil," 1858; "Ships, the Great Eastern and lesser Craft" (with illustrations), 1859; "Mee a ow! or Good Advice to Cats and Kittens," 1859; "The World of Ice, or Adventures in the Polar Regions," 1860 (1859); "The Dog Crusoe, a Tale of the Western Prairies," 1861 (1860); "The Golden Dream, or Adventures in the Far West," 1861 (1860); "The Gorilla Hunters, a Tale of the Wilds of Africa," 1861; "The Red Eric, or the Whaler's Last Cruise," 1861; "Man on the Ocean, a Book for Boys," 1863 (1862); "The Wild Man of the West, a Tale of the Rocky Mountains," 1863 (1862); "Gascoyne, the Sandal wood Trader, a Tale of the Pacific," 1864 (1863); "The Lifeboat, a Tale of our Coast Heroes," 1864; "Freaks on the Fells, or Three Months' Rustication," and "Why I did not become a Sailor," etc., 1865 (1861); "The Lighthouse, being the Story of a Great Fight between Man and the Sea," etc., 1865; "Shifting Winds, a Tough Yarn," etc., 1866; "Silver Lake, or Lost in the Snow," 1867; "A Rescue in the Rocky Mountains," 1867; "Fighting the Flames, a Tale of the London Fire Brigade," 1868; "Away in the Wilderness, or Life among the Red Indians and Fur Traders of North America," 1869; "Erling the Bold, a Tale of the Norse Sea kings," with illustrations by the author, 1869; "Deep Down, a Tale of the Cornish Mines," 1869; "The Floating Light of the Goodwin Sands," with illustrations by the author, 1870; "The Iron Horse, or Life on the Line, a Tale of the Grand National Trunk Railway," 1871; "The Norsemen in the West, or America before Columbus," 1872; "The Pioneers, a Tale of the Western Wilderness, illustrative of the Adventures and Discoveries of Sir A... Continue reading book >>

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