- Frank Mildmay, or the Naval Officer (1829) was Captain Frederick Marryat's first novel. Captain Marryat was a midshipman under Lord Cochrane during the Napoleonic Wars -- and Lord Cochrane is the real life inspiration for many fictional naval heroes from Horatio Hornblower to Jack Aubrey. Marryat's first novel was widely believed to be autobiographic, and is an exquisitely detailed portrait of life at sea and the coming of age of a young rascal, Frank Mildmay. Marryat dwells on the small details of nautical life, dismissing large actions, such as the Battle of Trafalgar with "but everybody knows what happened there." Instead he focuses on the small actions, such as the etiquette of naval combat meant that battleships did not fire upon frigates unless fired upon first. Numerous incidents, comic, tragic, and lascivious, are detailed as young Frank succumbs to vice but eventually reforms himself. To listen to this novel is like sitting over a tankard of ale listening to sailor's tales -- some of which might actually be true.