Patrick O’Brian is best known for the Aubrey–Maturin series of novels, acclaimed by Richard Snow in The New York Times as ‘the best historical novels ever written’.
O’Brian was also the biographer of Joseph Banks and Picasso. He translated many works from French into English, among them the novels and memoirs of Simone de Beauvoir and the first volume of Jean Lacouture’s biography of Charles de Gaulle. In 1995 he was the first recipient of the Heywood Hill Prize for a lifetime’s contribution to literature and in the same year he was also awarded the CBE. In 1997 he was given an honorary doctorate of letters by Trinity College, Dublin. O’Brian lived for many years in south west France and died in Dublin in 2000.