Flashman on the March

Flashman on the March
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Coward, scoundrel, lover and cheat, but there is no better man to go into the jungle with. Join Flashman in his adventures as he survives fearful ordeals and outlandish perils across the four corners of the world.Who better to undertake a perilous mission into deepest Abyssinia, to rescue Britons held hostage by a mad emperor? When it comes to skulking in Ali Baba disguise or seducing barbarian monarchs, nobody does it better than Harry Flashman.


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First published in Great Britain by HarperCollinsPublishers 2005

Copyright © George MacDonald Fraser 2005

How Did I Get the Idea of Flashman? © The Beneficiaries of the Literary

Estate of George MacDonald Fraser 2015

Map © John Gilkes 2015

Cover layout design © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2015

Cover illustration © Gino D’Achille

George MacDonald Fraser asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it, while at times based on historical events and figures, are the work of the author’s imagination.

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins.

Source ISBN: 9780007197408

Ebook Edition © 2015 ISBN: 9780007325627

Version: 2015-07-22

The following piece was found in the author’s study in 2013 by the Estate of George MacDonald Fraser.

‘How did you get the idea of Flashman?’ and ‘When are we going to get his U.S. Civil War memoirs?’ are questions which I have ducked more often than I can count. To the second, my invariable response is ‘Oh, one of these days’. Followed, when the inquirer is an impatient American, by the gentle reminder that to an old British soldier like Flashman the unpleasantness between the States is not quite the most important event of the nineteenth century, but rather a sideshow compared to the Mutiny or Crimea. Before they can get indignant I add hastily that his Civil War itinerary is already mapped out; this is the only way of preventing them from telling me what it ought to be.

To the question, how did I get the idea, I simply reply that I don’t know. Who ever knows? Anthony Hope conceived The Prisoner of Zenda on a walk from Westminster to the Temple, but I doubt if he could have said, after the calendar month it took him to write the book, what triggered the idea. In my case, Flashman came thundering out of the mists of forty years living and dreaming, and while I can list the ingredients that went to his making, heaven only knows how and when they combined.

One thing is sure: the Flashman Papers would never have been written if my fellow clansman Hugh Fraser, Lord Allander, had confirmed me as editor of the Glasgow Herald in 1966. But he didn’t, the canny little bandit, and I won’t say he was wrong. I wouldn’t have lasted in the job, for I’d been trained in a journalistic school where editors were gods, and in three months as acting chief my attitude to management, front office, and directors had been that of a seigneur to his serfs – I had even put Fraser’s entry to the House of Lords on an inside page, assuring him that it was not for the Herald, his own paper, to flaunt his elevation, and that a two-column picture of him was quite big enough. How cavalier can you get?

And doubtless I had other editorial shortcomings. In any event, faced with twenty years as deputy editor (which means doing all the work without getting to the big dinners), I promised my wife I would ‘write us out of it’. In a few weeks of thrashing the typewriter at the kitchen table in the small hours, Flashman was half-finished, and likely to stay that way, for I fell down a waterfall, broke my arm, and lost interest – until my wife asked to read what I had written. Her reaction galvanised me into finishing it, one draft, no revisions, and for the next two years it rebounded from publisher after publisher, British and American.

I can’t blame them: the purported memoir of an unregenerate blackguard, bully, and coward resurrected from a Victorian school story is a pretty eccentric subject. By 1968 I was ready to call it a day, but thanks to my wife’s insistence and George Greenfield’s matchless knowledge of the publishing scene, it found a home at last with Herbert Jenkins, the manuscript looking, to quote Christopher MacLehose, as though it had been round the world twice. It dam’ nearly had.

They published it as it stood, with (to me) bewildering results. It wasn’t a bestseller in the blockbuster sense, but the reviewers were enthusiastic, foreign rights (starting with Finland) were sold, and when it appeared in the U.S.A. one-third of forty-odd critics accepted it as a genuine historical memoir, to the undisguised glee of the New York Times, which wickedly assembled their reviews. ‘The most important discovery since the Boswell Papers’ is the one that haunts me still, for if I was human enough to feel my lower ribs parting under the strain, I was appalled, sort of.

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