Captain Horatio Hornblower

by Cecil Lewis Troughton Smith

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 511

Captain Horatio Hornblower

Captain Horatio Hornblower, the commander of HMS Lydia and HMS Sutherland, British warships of the Napoleonic era. He is brilliant, brave, and skillful, but he is also shy and consumed by self-doubt, and he rigorously disciplines himself against a natural talkativeness. During his many adventures, he sinks the hostile warship Natividad while commanding the much smaller Lydia, heroically cripples a French squadron at the cost of losing theSutherland, is captured by the French, is reported dead, escapes, seizes a captured English ship, sails to England, is knighted, and is reunited with the widowed Lady Barbara.

Lieutenant William Bush

Lieutenant William Bush, Hornblower’s stolid, capable, fearless first lieutenant. He loses a foot during the battle with the French squadron; captured along with Hornblower, he accompanies him during the long escape from the heart of France. Upon returning to England, Bush is promoted to the rank of captain.


Brown, Hornblower’s powerfully built coxswain and personal servant. Though uneducated, he is highly intelligent and adaptable, and he proves invaluable during the escape from France.

Lieutenant Gerard

Lieutenant Gerard, Hornblower’s handsome, rakish second lieutenant.

Don Julian Alvarado

Don Julian Alvarado (HEW-lee-ahn ahl-vah-RAH-doh), called El Supremo (sew-PREH-moh), a megalomaniacal petty tyrant who instigates a rebellion against Spanish rule in Central America. After his rebellion is crushed, he is captured by the Spanish and executed.

Captain Crespo

Captain Crespo, El Supremo’s henchman, the commander of the Natividad. Though brutal and apparently primitive, he proves to be a capable seaman, a clever tactician, and a brave opponent; he chooses to go down with his ship rather than surrender to Hornblower.


Maria, Hornblower’s short, dumpy wife, who dies in childbirth while he is a captive in France.

Lady Barbara Wellesley

Lady Barbara Wellesley, the beautiful, accomplished, self-possessed sister of the Duke of Wellington. Sailing to England aboard the Lydia, she falls in love with Hornblower, but he refuses her because he is married; in a fit of anger, she then weds Admiral Leighton. After the deaths of Maria and Leighton, she adopts Hornblower’s child. She and Hornblower are reconciled after his escape from France.

Admiral Sir Percy Leighton

Admiral Sir Percy Leighton, Hornblower’s immediate commander and Lady Barbara’s husband, a pompous, unimaginative man who owes his rank to his family’s political prominence. He is injured in the final destruction of the French squadron crippled by Hornblower, and he later dies of his wounds.

Colonel Caillard

Colonel Caillard (ki-YAWR), an officious, cruel aide to Napoleon assigned to escort Hornblower to Paris.

Comte de Graçay

Comte de Graçay (gray-SAY), the kindly lord of the chateau where Hornblower, Bush, and Brown find refuge during their escape. A charming, cultured scion of the French aristocracy, he disapproves of Napoleon’s regime.

Marie de Graçay

Marie de Graçay, his attractive, widowed daughter-in-law, who becomes Hornblower’s lover during his stay at the chateau.


Longley, Hornblower’s cabin boy aboard the Sutherland, killed during the fight with the French squadron.


Polwheal (pohl-WEEL), Hornblower’s steward.

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