'And if Lord of the Flies is one of their A-level texts, they may just be interested to know that this 1857 Boys' Own adventure story about pirates, cannibals and how to survive on a Pacific island with a broken telescope and a rusty penknife was what inspired William Golding's novel. He even pinched Ballantyne's names, Ralph and Jack, for his leading characters - though there the resemblance ends. Here the boys are shining stiff-upper-lip products of empire who risk all to help each other and their friend Peterkin, who may or may not be the piggy in the middle. He sounds as if he went to a better school. This is Peterkin telling his chums what he thinks of being shipwrecked on a desert island: "I have made up my mind that it's capital, first-rate, the best thing that ever happened to us. We've got an island all to ourselves. We'll take possession in the name of the King, then we'll build a charming villa and plant a lovely garden round it, stuck all full of the most splendiferous tropical flowers, and we'll farm the land ... and be merry." That's how small boys wearing round black straw hats, worsted socks and pocket handkerchiefs with 16 portraits of Lord Nelson printed on them and a union flag in the middle used to talk in the mid 19th century.' - Sue Arnold, The Guardian
--This text refers to the
About the Author
Robert Michael Ballantyne was born in Scotland in 1825. As a young man he went to Canada to work as a clerk with the Hudson Bay Fur Company. His experiences gave him lots of ideas for his career as a writer, artist and lecturer when he returned to Scotland. His best known for his novel The Coral Island which has remained in print since its first publication in 1857. He died in 1894.