First published just 6 years after the eruption of Krakatoa, ‘Blown to Bits’ by Scottish author R.M. Ballantyne is set against the backdrop of this seismic environmental event. Nigel Roy is first mate aboard his father’s ship the ‘Sunshine’ when they feel an ominous change in the weather. In the storm that ensues their ship is badly damaged, and they are forced ashore on the Cocos Islands. While exploring this new and unfamiliar place, Nigel has all kinds of escapades – and makes plenty of new friends along the way. Based on real events ‘Blown to Bits’ is a fascinating adventure story by the popular author R.M. Ballantyne.
R.M. Ballantyne (1825-1894) was a Scottish artist and prolific author of mostly children’s fiction. Born in Edinburgh, Ballantyne was the ninth of ten children. At the age of 16 Ballantyne moved to Canada, where he worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, travelling all over the country to trade for fur. He returned to Scotland in 1847 following the death of his father, and it was then that he began his literary career in earnest, writing over 100 children’s adventure books over the course of his life. Stories such as ‘The Coral Island’ and ‘The Young Fur Traders’ were hugely popular, and many of them drew on his own experiences of travelling throughout Canada. A stickler for detail, Ballantyne continued to travel widely to research the backgrounds and settings for his exciting stories. His tales became an inspiration for authors of the future, including ‘Treasure Island’ novelist Robert Louis Stevenson. Ballantyne spent the latter period of his life living in London and Italy for the sake of his health. He died in Rome in 1894 at the age of 68.