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Westerman, Percy F

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1876-1959) UK author who specialized in adventure tales for boys, though his protagonists were usually vigorous adults, as befitted their military/adventurer roles; and very frequently set at sea. He was the father of John F C Westerman. Of Westerman's 170 or more volumes between 1908 and 1959, several are Children's SF, the most successful of these being perhaps the first: The Flying Submarine (1912), an Invention adventure built around the ominous submarine described in the title, whose mobility is due to an advanced propulsion system. Further pre-war tales include The Sea Monarch (1912) and The Rival Submarines (1913), the latter set in a Near Future 1917 with England still impregnable. Westerman was in active service during World War One, which occasioned stories darker and more jingoistic in tone than previously, and which include The Dreadnought of the Air (1914) and The Secret Battleplane (1916), featuring a plane with flapping wings; plus The War of the Wireless Waves (1923), which carries the same patriotic tone into post-war Albania, where a dictator with a secret WeaponRay Guns using Z and ZZ rays – must be stopped in his tracks.

The Captain Cain sequence comprising The Pirate Submarine (1923) and Captain Cain (1924) features a submersible pirate ship whose Antihero captain is palely evocative of Jules Verne's Captain Nemo; in the end, he is pardoned. Throughout Westerman's career, any tale involving an Airship or a submarine is likely to boast an Invention of some sort, or an implied Near Future setting; not all these titles have yet been identified. Later novels are increasingly dated, such as The Secret of the Plateau (1928), a Lost Race novel involving angry ancient Romans and, again, advanced aircraft. [JC]

Percy Francis Westerman

born Portsmouth, Hampshire: 18 May 1876

died Wareham, Dorset: 22 February 1959

works (selected)


Captain Cain

  • The Pirate Submarine (London: Nisbet and Company, 1923) [Captain Cain: illus/hb/Galli]
  • Captain Cain (London: Nisbet and Company, 1924) [Captain Cain: illus/hb/John de Walton]

individual titles


previous versions of this entry

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