Boys [should be] inured from childhood to trifling risks and slight dangers of every possible description, such as tumbling into ponds and off of trees, etc., in order to strengthen their nervous system... They ought to practice leaping off heights into deep water. They ought never to hesitate to cross a stream over a narrow unsafe plank for fear of a ducking. They ought never to decline to climb up a tree, to pull fruit merely because there is a possibility of their falling off and breaking their necks. I firmly believe that boys were intended to encounter all kinds of risks, in order to prepare them to meet and grapple with risks and dangers incident to man’s career with cool, cautious self-possession... —R.M. Ballantyne, The Gorilla Hunters
Welcome to Ballantyne the Brave. My name is Joshua Titus Phillips and I am the Director for BTB. I am a young man, eighteen years old, who for more than 10 years has enjoyed reading historical boys’ literature. My own literary journey has brought me through more than ninety books by G.A. Henty and numerous works of the great Christian author R.M. Ballantyne, to whom this website is dedicated. I have also had the honor of serving as a regular guest on San Antonio’s KSLR radio broadcast to discuss historical boys’ literature.
When I started reading Ballantyne’s boys’ stories, I was barely ten years old. After reading my very first Ballantyne book, The Coral Islands, I was amazed! I thought to myself: “This is what every boy must be reading.” Here was an author who taught boys to be strong, vigorous, and courageous, but he did so in the context of a Christian world view and pure faith in Jesus Christ. Ballantyne takes boys to the four corners of the earth on amazing adventures, and the Gospel message is an important part of his stories.
It was another Scotsman, Robert Louis Stevenson, who coined the phrase “Ballantyne the Brave.” He did this to honor Ballantyne for his bold vision of manhood — a vision which influenced Stevenson himself.
Ballantyne recognized the importance of Christian adventure literature for the boys of his generation. He was a remarkable Christian adventurer in his own right who traveled the world, and dedicated his life to giving young men a treasure trove of wonderful stories. More than a hundred years later Ballantyne’s books remain timely and inspiring.
My research revealed that Ballantyne’s books were fabulously popular in the 19th and early 20th century. But this led me to wonder why Ballantyne’s books were not more readily available from publishers today. The more I researched the more I realized that modern critics and publishers object to Ballantyne’s overt Christianity and his vigorous manhood — the very two elements which make Ballantyne great.
That is when my father and I began a project of finding creative ways to introduce this important literature to the boys of the 21st century. The first approach was to get the books republished. Then in January of this year, I approached my father with the idea for this website. He loved it.
We believe that there are many things competing for the attention of young men. Unfortunately, much of it is unhealthy. The other issue is that boys are not exposed to good things which build them up as future men. The result is a generation of weak boys who lack focus and vision. Another part of the problem is that too many are fearful about presenting manly, Christian stories to young men. It is not just secular publishers but also Christians who have lost the vision to train boys up to be manly. In the absence of good preaching, good examples, and good literature, many boys are taught by our culture to believe that effeminacy and wimpiness are virtues. This is wrong! Something must be done to reverse this trend.
Now, a number of young men (myself included) have come together under the guidance of our fathers to work toward the restoration of courageous Christian boyhood all over the world.
John Horn, sixteen years of age, is one of these men. Starting in August, 2009, John will be the new Managing Editor for BTB. John Horn is a friend and a first rate chap who shares the vision for both Henty and Ballantyne. As Managing Editor, John is responsible for overseeing the greater part of this site. He will be writing blog posts, updating articles, and answering questions. John has spent untold hours researching R.M. Ballantyne and has gathered a great amount of information on Ballantyne’s time in Canada.
John is also an expert on G. A. Henty's books, having read 60+ over the last seven years. Like myself John has read and enjoyed many other great historical authors of fiction and non-fiction ever since he first learned to read. Authors such as J. F. Cooper, Jules Verne, and R.L. Stevenson.
As soon as he read his first book by Ballantyne, The Coral Island, he began to enjoy, appreciate, and understand the investment which has been given to us. John feels that the boys of this generation have been given a heroic literary heritage, which must be benefited from – and added to for our own children.
John’s mission is to take “Ballantyne the Brave” to the next level – that means expanding the scope of our discussion to many more authors, in-depth research, and even more thought-provoking commentary. We also want to have more hard-hitting commentary on subjects of importance to boys in the modern day. We hope to receive more book reviews, and more commentary on 19th century literature from our readers.
John and I both believe that the time is ripe for a revival of Christ-honoring heroic and courageous boys literature. BallantyneTheBrave.com is dedicated to this purpose. It’s time to begin changing the culture!