This is how it all started. In the space of two days, two nearly identical letters dropped through a post box in Hawthorn Terrace in Berkeley, California. They were to spark off the C. S. Forester Society in September 1997. By coincidence Colin Blogg, a British enthusiast, and John Forester, elder son and biographer of C. S. Forester, had each made the same requests – to visit C. S. Forester’s former home and to take a photograph.
The recipients, the kindly Steinbergs then living in CSF’s former home, sensibly sent John Forester’s letter to Colin Blogg and also mailed Colin’s to John. And so a meeting was arranged. Colin and John then spent a whole day visiting the sites of John’s childhood, including several houses in Berkeley. The occasion was celebrated with dinner at one of CSF’s favourite seafood restaurants, with more local fans. Over dinner, they agreed to set up twin C. S. Forester societies, one in USA and one in Britain, in time to celebrate the centenary of his birth.
It took a while. One never knows how much appeal anything has until it is tried. John Perrott and John Norman (both of them C. S. Forester enthusiasts, collectors and dealers) agreed to help to start the British society. David Pott of Quality Book Fair gave space and free publicity, David Gower-Spence of Booklovers joined in with his ‘booklovers’website. The Luna Caprese Restaurant in Oxford made a room available at short notice.
By coincidence, too, Meridian TV obliged by screening some of their adaptations of the ‘Hornblower’ series. BBC and ITV showed The African Queen and The Gun (as The Pride and the Passion) over the 2000 Christmas period. Book & Magazine Collector featured the Hornblower novels, and British Airways showed Hornblower to long-haul passengers! Penguin also brought out new editions and a flurry of new Hornblower-related books were published. The time was ripe.
In Britain, the first meeting was held on Sunday 7 February 1999. An unknown quantity might turn up! In fact there were eight, mostly local to Oxford and known to the gang of three who began it all. It was agreed that we should form the C. S. Forester Society to promote interest in and knowledge of the life and works of C. S. Forester. We planned to meet informally, perhaps up to three to four times a year, around the country. It was agreed that we would publish a regular newsletter.
Over the years we have added a literary magazine Reflections, now published online after 25 printed editions. We have had meetings located throughout the United Kingdom, in France and in Sweden. We have discovered hitherto unknown works by C. S. Forester, have amassed critical reviews of his output and have been able to cast new light on his life. We have established links with other organisations and individuals interested in C. S. Forester and his works, and in Hornblower, around the world.
The founder of the C. S. Forester Society, Colin Blogg sadly passed away in 2014; likewise we mourned the loss of our great friend and active colleague Jetse Reijenga in the same year. The Society at present is run by the executive committee, elected at our Annual General Meeting. We currently have 150 members, from many different countries.
The Society thrives on writings and contributions from members and from all those interested in C. S. Forester. Those who want to join us can do so free of charge, by filling in the Membership web form. Your contributions will be welcomed and considered for inclusion in our website. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.