The Flashman Papers

Introduction Page

Pictures of Flashman from book covers
Flashman, Harry Paget. Brigadier-general, V.C., K.C.B., K.C.I.E.; Chevalier, Legion of Honour; U.S. Medal of honor; San Serafino Order of purity and truth, 4th Class. b 1822, s H. Flashman, Esq., Ashby and Hon. Alicia Paget; educ. Rugby School. m. Elspeth Rennie Morrison, d. Lord Paisley; one s., one d. Served Afghanistan, 1841-42 (medals, thanks of Parlaiment); Crimea (staff); Indian mutiny (Lucknow, etc., V.C.); China, Taiping Rebellion. Served U.S. Army (major, Union forces, 1862; colonel (staff) Army of the Confederacy, 1863). Travelled extensively in military and civilian capacites; a.d.c. Emperor Maximilian of Mexico; milit. advisor, H.M. Queen Ranavalona of Madagascar; chief of staff to Rajah of Sarawak; dep. marshall, U.S. Chmn, Flashman and Bottomley, Ltd.; dir. British Opium Trading Co.; governor, Rugby School; hon. pres. Mission for Reclamation of Reduced Females. Publications: Dawns and Departures of a Soldier's Life; Twixt Cossack and Cannon; The Case Against Army Reform. Clubs; White's, United Service, Blackjack (Batavia). Recreation: oriental studes, angling. Add. Gandamack Lodge, Ashby, Leics.
From Who's Who, 1896 edition.

As this thumbnail biography indicates, General Flashman witnessed most of the major events of the 19th century first-hand. Yet he is rarely mentioned in most histories of the period. Despite the illustrious career outlined above, General Flashman remains one of the least known heroes of the Victorian era. He may very well have gone forgotten if not for the fortuitous discovery of his memoirs-- the famous "Flashman Papers"-- in 1965. According to their editor, George MacDonald Fraser:

"The papers, which had apparently lain untouched for fifty years, in a tea chest, until they were found in the Ashby saleroom, were carefully wrapped in oilskin covers. From correspondence found in the first packet, it is evident that their original discovery by [Flashman's] relatives in 1915 after the great soldier's death caused considerable consternation; they seem to have been unanimously against publication of their kinsman's autobiography-- one can readily understand why-- and the only wonder is that the manuscript was not destroyed."

Fraser notes that the papers were claimed by the nearest known living relative of the author, Mr. Paget Morrison of Durban, South Africa. Mr. Morrison thereupon enlisted Fraser, a reporter for the Glasgow Herald, to prepare the manuscripts for publication. The first packet, published in 1969 under the title Flashman, caused a sensation among historians at the time.

There have been ten packets of the Flashman papers published so far. In order of publication, they are:

Flashman: Early life, Afghan uprising, 1839-1842

Royal Flash: Schleswig-Holstein controversy, 1842-43, 1847-48

Flash for Freedom!: American slave trade, 1848-49

Flashman at the Charge: Crimean War (the Light Brigade), Central Asia, 1854-55

Flashman in the Great Game: Sepoy Indian Mutiny, 1856-58

Flashman's Lady: Borneo Piracy, Madagascar, 1842-45

Flashman and the Redskins: The 1849 Gold Rush, the Battle at Little Big Horn, 1849-50, 1875-76

Flashman and the Dragon: Taiping Rebellion, 1860

Flashman and the Mountain of Light: Indian Punjab, Sikh Rebellion, 1845-46

Flashman and the Angel of the Lord: John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry, 1858-59

In addition, Fraser has published a portion of one packet as a self-contained novella, "Flashman and the Tiger," which will be published in full at some future date. Fraser has indicated that future releases from the "Flashman papers" will document the General's role in the American Civil War, the Zulu Uprising, the Boxer rebellion, the reign of Mexico's Emperor Maximilian, and even a short term as deputy marshall to Wild Bill Hickok in Abilene, Kansas.

Fraser has also written a novel of the Edwardian era, Mr. American, where he incorporates many living figures of the period-- including General Flashman, who is ninety years old by the time of the novel. More recently, Fraser's novel Black Ajax (as yet unpublished in America) details the life of a black boxer in 1820's Britain, and includes an appearance by Flashman's father.

The purpose of this Web page is as a "Flashman companion." We will try to compile a complete account of Flashman's life based on the published packets, compile historical information and resource materials, and provide a forum for the discussion of General Flashman's life and times.

We would like to ask all readers to pass along any information they may have regarding this great Victorian era hero. We would appreciate graphics of the period (paintings, examples of military dress, recommended Web links), excerpts of historical materials, corrections, errors in the papers, speculations on the remaining packets, etc.

On to the Flashman Papers Project on the World Wide Web