< 1930 Fiction

noimage The Young Ship-Builders of Elm Island (1871)
Elijah Kellogg

The John went to Portland to learn about ships’ blacksmithing. Charlie wanted to build wooden boats and made models to test his ideas.

Elijah Kellogg, The Young Shipbuilders of Elm Island, (New York, 1871).
noimage Who Shall Serve? (1891)
Annie S. Swan

A novel about a shipyard at a semi-rural location on New Maldon in Cheshire. The aging owner of the shipyard, Lucas Redmond, falls ill. His inexperienced son, Vincent, takes over and antagonises the workers with his hard-line approach. Agitators arrive from Liverpool and the workers strike. Vincent is having an illicit affair with the daughter of one of the leading yard workers. Her brother discovers them and they fight. Vincent is nearly killed and only gets better when he marries his love. Meanwhile an enlightened shipyard manager is brought in to rebuild relations in the yard. Lucas Redmond’s daughter, Dorothea, is keen to improve the lot of the workers. She marries the local lord of the manor and enlightens him to the plight of the working man. The novel ends with the opening of a working men’s institute which will serve to improve the lives of the workers and encourage better employer/employee relations. The yard features largely as a backdrop to the interplay of social mores of the leading characters.

Annie S. Swan, Who Shall Serve?: A story for the times, (Edinburgh & London, 1891).
noimage The Mystery of a Shipyard (1901)
Richard Henry Savage

A crime novel.

Richard Henry Savage, The Mystery of a Shipyard, (New York, 1901).
noimage The Young Shipbuilder (1902)
Sophie Swett

Cyrus, the eldest of a family of orphans gives up his dream of becoming a minister to take over his grandfather’s ailing shipyard at Palmyra, New Jersey. He show’s no talent for it. Meanwhile Dave, the youngest, is expelled from college and pays his penance as a carpenter at the yard. He shows great talent and succeeds in rescuing the yard by getting orders for yachts. A Sunday school novel with much quoting of hymns and the bible. It closes: ‘The busy hum of the yard – shipyard – mingled again with the placid song of our beautiful river. The soft, blue summer sky bent over us like a benediction, and God’s providence was our sure inheritance.’

Sophie Swett, The Young Shipbuilder, (Philadelphia, 1902).
noimage The Cup of Fury (1919)
Rupert Hughes

Wartime propaganda. Anti German, anti Bolshevik. Pro capitalist and full of importance for workers to fight with the bosses rather than against them to defeat evil. Story of Mamise adopted into a German/English family and gets caught up in spying scandal. Forced to go to America. Meets up with shipbuilder Ross Davidge. Ends up working at his shipyard, first as stenographer, then as rivet catcher. German spy tries to blow up shipyard. Mamise alerts Davidge. Spy gets in with bomb, Davidge attacks him. Bomb goes over side of ship, kills spy and blows off Davidges arm and injures Mamise. Mamise and Davidge marry. Clearly written during the war as propaganda to impress workers of need to work hard to defeat Germans but alters towards end to be anti Bolshevik.

Rupert Hughes, The Cup of Fury: A novel of cities and shipyards, (New York, 1919).
noimage The Stranger’s Banquet (1919)
Donn Byrne

The story of Derith Keogh, a young woman, who inherits the New River shipyard on Martha’s Vineyard, after her elderly father’s death. He makes her promise to run the shipyard along the same paternal lines that he had done. However, an anarchist/communist plot begins and agitators demand ever more concessions from her, to which she agrees. Productivity falls and the workers become lazy and greedy. Derith’s adoptive brother, Angus Campbell, who acts as shipyard manager, can see what is happening but cannot make her see sense. He goes off in disgust. Things reach a head when the agitator foments a strike at the yard and armed police are called in. Angus returns, manages to make the agitator see the error of his ways, the strike is called off, the workers return to their previous ways of working and Derith and Angus fall in love.

Donn Byrne, The Strangers’ Banquet, (New York & London, 1919).
noimage Glenwood of Shipbay (1921)
John H. Walsh

Story of a shipyard town in Maine.

John H. Walsh, Glenwood of Shipbay, (New York)
noimage The Lovely Ship (1927)
Storm Jameson

First of the Triumph of Time trilogy following the fortunes of a shipbuilding family from Whitby.

Storm Jameson, The Lovely Ship, (London, 1927).
noimage The Three Passions (1928)
Cosmo Hamilton

A shipyard tycoon, Lord Bellamont, is devoted to his son Philip and wants to pass the yard on to him. There is an accident and a worker dies. The son blames himself as he had paid no heed to the workers’ demands for better working conditions. He leaves, finds God and works in a seamen’s mission. The father sends his son’s former fiancé to the mission to win him back. She is nearly raped by a seaman but is rescued by Philip. He returns to the shipyard to save it from striking workers and to take it over from his dying father. A novel of the film of the same name.

Cosmo Hamilton, The Three Passions, (London, 1928).
noimage The Strange Companions (1929)
John Cranstoun Nevill

A novel about a family of shipbuilders.

John Cranstoun Nevill, The Strange Companions, (Boston, 1929).