Master Storyteller of the Sea, Douglas Reeman, a.k.a Alexander Kent, 1924 — 2017

We understand that writer Douglas Reeman has died at this home in Cobham, Surrey, at the age of 92. Reeman, perhaps best know for the novels written under the pen-name Alexander Kent, wrote close to 60 books and has left an indelible mark on the literature of the sea. 

Douglas Edward Reeman was born at Thames Ditton, on October 15, 1924. He joined the Royal Navy in 1940, at the age of 16, and served during World War II and the Korean War, rising to the rank of lieutenant. In addition to being an author, Reeman has also taught the art of navigation for yachting and served as a technical advisor for films. Reeman is survived by his wife of thirty one years, Kimberley Jordan. 

As Douglas Reeman, he wrote about naval action during the twentieth century, with a primary focus on Britain’s Royal Navy. Using the pen-name Alexander Kent, he chronicled the adventures of Richard and Adam Bolitho at sea during the Age of Fighting Sail in a series spanning thirty novels. More than than 30 million copies of his books are in print. He will be missed by all lovers of nautical fiction.  

In an interview, Douglas Reeman commented, ‘I am always asked to account for the perennial appeal of the sea story, and its enduring interest for people of so many nationalities and cultures. It would seem that the eternal and sometimes elusive triangle of man, ship and ocean, particularly under the stress of war, produces the best qualities of courage and compassion, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of conflict . . . The sea has no understanding of righteous or unjust causes. It is the common enemy, respected by all who serve on it, ignored at their peril.’

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9 Responses to Master Storyteller of the Sea, Douglas Reeman, a.k.a Alexander Kent, 1924 — 2017

  1. Irwin Bryan says:

    Sad news. Having started my love of sea stories as a youth (I’m 60 now), I’ve probably read most of his World War II books and all but 3 of his Alexander Kent series. He will definitely be missed!

    You chose a perfect quote that defined his life’s work and his enduring appeal to readers. Thank you.

  2. Jim Allen says:

    I honor his service and the way he honored others who served in his books. I was a seaman and he was a seaman. He is missed.

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  4. Ditto Jim Allen. I read and passed on most of his WW II stories as well as his series on the Royal Marines. He shed light on the campaigns conducted by his country in places that eluded many americans, Gallipoli, Suez and the African continent to name a few. His characters had some faults but also an inner strength that I’m sure reflected his own service in the Royal Navy. Rest in peace DR.

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  6. Stewart Alsgard says:

    While serving as a Captain (N) in command of HMCS Discovery, Vancouver BC I had the wonderful experience of meeting and befriending Douiglas and his wife Winnifred whom I invited to my home in Powell River BC. There he met with many admiring readers and came away with an idea involving a Powell Riverite which subsequently published as “The Volunteers”. Although a future meeting was planned, mutual circumstances prevented same. What a privilege to know this gifted person. BRAVO ZULU Douglas Reeman!
    Stewart Alsgard, OMM,CD

  7. Richard W. Jacks says:

    Of all the many, he was the best.

  8. Jack Slagle says:

    I have read all of the Bolitho books and the Hornblower series by Forester. They both give us an accurate picture of life at sea for both the officers and crews in those times of our seafaring history. I love all the books of these authors. They may be gone now, but they are still here when I pick up one of their books. A legacy forever….Their spirit lives on….

  9. Thank you all for your tributes to my beloved husband, my Douglas. He was the very essence of a naval officer and he lived by what he called OLQs, officer-like qualities: courage, compassion, duty, honour. And I will do everything in my power to keep his flag flying and his books available in every format, so that everybody may continue to read and enjoy his wonderful stories for years to come. God bless you all for your support throughout the years. Please remember him always.