The Coral Island
The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean is a novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne. The story relates the adventures of three boys marooned on a South Pacific island. It was the inspiration for William Golding’s dystopian novel Lord of the Flies, which inverted the morality of The Coral Island.
About The Coral Island in brief
The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean is a novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne. One of the first works of juvenile fiction to feature exclusively juvenile heroes, the story relates the adventures of three boys marooned on a South Pacific island. Among the novel’s major themes are the civilising effect of Christianity, 19th-century imperialism in the South Pacific, and the importance of hierarchy and leadership. It was the inspiration for William Golding’s dystopian novel Lord of the Flies, which inverted the morality of The Coral Island. In the early 20th century, the novel was considered a classic for primary school children in the UK, and in the United States it was a staple of high-school suggested reading lists. Modern critics consider the book’s worldview to be dated and imperialist, but although less popular today, the Coral Island was adapted into a four-part children’s television drama broadcast by ITV in 2000. The first edition was published by T. Nelson & Sons & Sons, who in common with many other publishers of the time had a policy of buying a manuscript of buying the copyright from the author rather than paying royalties. He tried bitterly to buy back the copyright, but when the popularity of the novel became evident he wrote back bitterly to the publisher. He was an exceedingly prolific author who wrote more than 100 books in his 40-year career. He felt it his duty to educate Victorian middle-class boys his target audience – in religiosity, decency, and religiosity.
He wrote the first edition in honour of the honour of his late father, who died in 1857. The second edition, published in 1856, has never been out of print and is still in print today. It is a typical Robinsonade – a genre of fiction inspired by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe – and one of the most popular of its type, the book first went on sale in late 1857 and has ever been in print. The book was written while staying in a house on the Burntisland seafront opposite Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth in Fife. He borrowed extensively from an 1852 novel by the American author James F. Bowman, The Island Home. He also borrowed from John Williams’s Narrative of Missionary Enterprises, which he must have written one chapter of with Williams’s book open in front of him, so similar is the text. His ignorance of the SouthPacific caused him to erroneously describe coconuts as being soft and easily opened; a stickler for accuracy he resolved that in future, whenever possible, he would write only about things he had personal experience of. He never visited the coral islands, relying instead on the accounts of others that were then beginning to emerge in Britain. He exaggerated for theatrical effect by including ‘plenty of gore and violence meant to titillate his juvenile readership’. Although the first editions is dated 1858 it was on sale from early December 1857; dating books forward was a common practice at the time, especially during the Christmas period, to preserve their newness into the new year.