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The Cruise of the Breadwinner.
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Cornhill Magazine
Michael Joseph
Saturday Evening Post
Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd
Publication Year
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available as ebook

London: Michael Joseph, 1946 (July); Boston: Little, Brown and Company (an Atlantic Monthly Press Book), 1947 (March). Original dust jacket by James Broom-Lynne.

A story in which Snowy, a young crew member on a coastal patrol boat, "goes out, all starry-eyed in his notions of war's glamour and glory, to find himself involved in naked and bloody battle...finally [sailing] home...strangely grown in stature and refined by fire" (from Bates's introduction to the anthology Six Stories). Two downed pilots, one English and one German, are rescued by the boat, but an air attack kills one of the three crew members and wounds the pilots, both of whom in the end die, with Snowy in attendance.

Bates, in The World in Ripeness (pp. 111-113), proudly cites the critic James Agate's comparison of the work to Conrad's Typhoon. He acknowledges inspiration for the story in Crane's Red Badge of Courage, characterizes it as his second novella [after The Bride Comes to Evensford] and writes at some length of his fascination for that genre. Years later, Bates would include the tale in the anthology Six Stories (Oxford, 1965) "at the suggestion of the publishers," the other authors selected by Bates being de Maupassant, Chekhov, Beerbohm, Joyce, and Hemingway.

The Times Literary Supplement says that "altogether the tale has an effect of truthfulness without stirring emotion in the reader at all deeply" while the New York Times says "Mr. Bates has painted it all with a loose, sure brush that does not waste a stroke...[it] is a superb conversation piece with death" and the Christian Science Monitor concurred in calling it "a fine piece of realistic writing, grim in the extreme yet still manifesting an artistic restraint, and profoundly convincing...a magnificent piece of writing. The prose is tense and forceful, stripped of every unnecessary word; the narrative and characterization are brilliant."


  • Christian Science Monitor (September 14, 1946, p. WM14, Eric Forbes-Boyd, attached)
  • New Statesman and Nation (July 20, 1946, p. 53, Rayner Heppenstall, attached)
  • New York Times (April 27, 1947, p. BR36, James MacBride, attached)
  • Saturday Review of Literature (April 12, 1947, p. 54, Robert A. Allen, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (July 13, 1946, p. 329, attached)
  • Sunday Times (July 7, 1946, p. 3, Charles Morgan, attached)

Published in:

  • The Saturday Evening Post (March 23, 1946)
  • The Cornhill Magazine (April 1946)
  • Twelve Modern Short Novels (London: Odhams Press, 1946)
  • The Cruise of the Breadwinner & Dear Life (1951)
  • The Saturday Evening Post Reader of Sea Stories (1962)