Rafael Sabatini

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Rafael Sabatini (April 29, 1875 - February 13, 1950) was an Italian/British writer of novels of romance and adventure.



Rafael Sabatini was born in Jesi, Italy, to an English mother and Italian father. His parents were opera singers who became teachers.

At a young age, Rafael was exposed to many languages, living with his grandfather in England, attending school in Portugal and, as a teenager, in Switzerland. By the time he was seventeen, when he returned to England to live permanently, he was the master of five languages. He quickly added a sixth language — English — to his linguistic collection. He consciously chose to write in his adopted language, because, he said, "all the best stories are written in English."

After a brief stint in the business world, Sabatini went to work as a writer. He wrote short stories in the 1890s, and his first novel came out in 1902. In 1905 he married Ruth Goad Dixon, the daughter of a Liverpool merchant. It took Sabatini roughly a quarter of a century of hard work before he attained success with Scaramouche in 1921. This brilliant novel of the French Revolution became an international best-seller. It was followed by the equally successful Captain Blood in 1922. All of his earlier books were rushed into reprints, the most popular of which was The Sea Hawk from 1915. Sabatini was a prolific writer; he produced a new book approximately every year. While he perhaps didn't achieve the mammoth success of Scaramouche and Captain Blood, nonetheless Sabatini still maintained a great deal of popularity with the reading public through the decades that followed. The public knew that in picking up a Sabatini book, they could always count upon a good read, and his following was loyal and extensive.

His only son, Rafael-Angelo (nicknamed Binkie), was killed in a car crash on April 1, 1927. In 1931, he and his wife Ruth divorced. Later that year he moved from London to Hay-on-Wye. In 1935 he married the sculptor Christine Goad, his former sister-in-law. They suffered a further tragedy when Christine's son, Lancelot, flew over their house the day he received his RAF wings. The plane went out of control and crashed in flames before their eyes.

By the 1940s, illness forced the writer to slow his prolific method of composition. However, he did write several additional works even during that time. He died February 13, 1950 in Switzerland. He is buried at Adelboden, Switzerland. On his headstone his wife had written, "He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad", the first line of his best-known work, Scaramouche.

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