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18th August 2005Strange Title In The 19th Century Book Listings
By Coll
A short while back I received my usual copy of the Ken Trotman Ltd book catalogue.

Reading through the 19th Century listing, I discovered a title, which to me, didn't seem to belong amidst all of the more serious books on military subjects.

It struck me as kind of 'odd'. The title was 'Flashman on the March', definitely written (I think) with a sense of humour.

Anyway, the reason I've included it here is because I checked around on the internet about it (apparently it is part of a series about the main character) and found a section which mentioned one of the storylines has him escaping Isandlwana and ending up at Rorke's Drift !

Is anyone aware of this series, or has maybe read one of the books, especially about the Isandlwana/Rorke's Drift storyline ?

I would try and give some more details, but I found it to be truly bizarre.

18th August 2005Coll
Further to the above.

'Flashman and the Tiger' appears to be the title of the book that contains Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.

Apparently, historical figures included are - Pulleine, Durnford, Chelmsford, Chard and Bromhead.

Although, how they are presented in the book I have no idea.

Can anyone enlighten us ?

18th August 2005Paul Cubbin
The 'Flashman' series of books by George Mac Donald Fraser are a series of highly improbable and hilarious (at least to me) adventures by the Victorian era's greatest cad. If we are to take the introductions as gospel truth (not recommended) then Mr Fraser has merely presented the recently discovered memoirs of someone who was, until these books came to light, merely a villainous bully in 'Tom Brown's School Days'. I can thoroughly recommend them all, but you should really start at Volume I ('Flashman') and work your way through. The title to which you refer is, by chance, in my possession as a spare (I bought it without checking whether I already had it or not), send me your address directly and I'll post it through if you like. I warn you though, they are about as politically incorrect as you can get and you shouldn't go near them if you are easily offended.
18th August 2005Coll

Thankyou for your reply.

May I ask if you could supply more details of it's contents, as in, the coverage of Isandlwana/Rorke's Drift, as well as historical figures. (Durnford, Pulleine, etc.) Do the main participants 'appear' in the storyline and how are they presented to the reader ?

19th August 2005Paul Cubbin
Coll, if you're looking to broaden your understanding of the conflict or are after some juicy titbit that may have been previously overlooked, forget it! The Flashman books are meant to be high farce romps as the ultimate bully and coward stumbles from one life-threatening encounter to another, loosely based around actual accounts and facts. Although George MacDonald Fraser is a respected military historian in his own right, these books aren't to be found in the 'Non-Fiction' section of your local library. All the 'truth' of events is expressed through Flashman's extremely jaundiced and bigoted views and should really not be trusted too far.

PS. And he also blames Durnford!
19th August 2005Coll

Many thanks.

Although I was aware it was probably written with an element of 'fun', I was curious in the fact there are not many (I don't think) novels (even of this type) based on the Anglo-Zulu War 1879, especially the battles at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift, which included mention or involvement of actual historical figures of that time.

However, I'm sure there are other novels based on previous or later events in Zululand.

Pity the stories about British soldiers that are well-known from around that time (mid-late 19th Century) weren't set in Zululand.

For example - Do the think different versions of the well-known films of 'The Man Who Would Be King' , or 'The Four Feathers' would work in an AZW setting ?

Maybe not the first one, but possibly have a version of 'The Four Feathers' set during the AZW, as there are several exciting battles to work the story around.

20th August 2005Michael Boyle

Try these for "Flashman" background and info, quite the cult following! ;
(Shows the cover illustrations)



20th August 2005Coll

I never thought an unusual title in my book catalogue would be part of a popular series, but then also find out there is such a thing as a 'Flashman Society' !

Thanks for replying

26th August 2005Dave Colbourne

Have you come across 'The Tune That They Play' by William Clive, a novel about Isandhlwana? It was published around 30 years ago (can't find my copy to be certain) and is well worth a read.

Clive uses the names of several members of the 1/24, both officers and other ranks, but does point out that they are not meant to be regarded as portraits of the real individuals, being just names on a regimental muster roll.


26th August 2005Coll

Thanks for replying.

I've never seen the title you mentioned, so I had a look around the internet for details.

In a small paragraph I found about the book, it describes the front cover illustration being a line of soldiers with red jackets and green cuffs fighting Zulus, presumed to be a scene from the battle at Isandlwana.

It states that the battle is partly covered in the book, but the main character is/or based on Norris Newman, other characters including a lieutenant and a private of the 24th.

Thanks again

27th August 2005Michael Boyle
I've recently read "The Tune That They Play" and found it quite entertaining although I must admit I purchased it by accident. The brief description included on the web page led me to believe it was a historical account of band members! It's actually a novelization of 'Noggs' experiences prior to and during the Zulu War, with many interesting characterizations of some of the actual (and presumably imaginary, I didn't have the heart to look it up) participants. I wonder how accurate it was towards the good Captain's experiences in Afghanistan? (It does make one wince.)
27th August 2005Peter Ewart

Imaginary and actual. Generally, officers were actual, soldiers imaginary. However, the actual facts about the officers did not extend much beyonf name and rank. For example, Lt Dyson's father - almost a central character in this novel - was portrayed as a nasty Birmingham arms manufacturer/gun-runner, whereas the real father had been a distinguished British officer with (at the time of the AZW) a country seat in rural Kent a couple of miles or so from where I write. (He had once lived in Wolverhampton, though!)

There are clues in the novel "Zulu Dawn" (which was published in 1979, not long before the release of a film of the same name and used as a promotion for the film) that Cy Endfield, the author, had read Clive's book (publ. 1973). Both the writing style and the way he focused the plot on actual people with fictionalised characters and life stories - Fannin, Vereker etc - and gave them prominent parts in the story, are very similar. Although Zulu Dawn's author is given as Cy Endfield, presumably the almost concurrent release of both novel and film meant that the novel was merely a literary version of the screenplay? (The film experts can probably answer that). That particular novel doesn't have much to recommend it (in my humble opinion) but it's probably no worse than the film.

In it's way, the Clive novel is an interesting little story based on Isandlwana and written in a light, enjoyable style. It seems to me that both Clive and Endfield had taken in a lot of what Morris wrote in TWOTS a few years earlier. I like, however, the title of Clive's novel as it uses a line from the last verse of one of my favourite Kipling poems, "The Widow at Windsor."

And the painting on the cover of my paperback version is not at all bad.

27th August 2005Coll
Do you think a novel uniting 'Zulu Dawn' and 'Zulu' together in the one book would have been/would be successful ?

Remember, I'm meaning a novelisation of the films, not the real events as we know them, but more to do with the films' interpretation of the battles and characters.

A sort of collector's edition to accompany enthusiasts' video and dvd copies of both films.

27th August 2005Dave Colbourne
William Clive also wrote three other novels set in the Victorian period, although not AZW related.

The central character in all three books was called Joseph Dando, and was a soldier in the 60th Rifles. The first book, 'Dando on Delhi Ridge', was set in the Indian Mutiny, 'Dando and the Summer Palace' was set in the 1860 China campaign, and 'Dando and the Mad Emperor' was the 1868 Abyssinian campaign.

Bit off topic, I suppose, but I remember them as being very readable.