MASON, ARTHUR (1876–1955). Born in Ireland, Mason went to sea at
age seventeen to embark on a career that would last twenty-four years. He
became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1899. For much of his
career he was engaged in the lumber trade out of various ports from San
Francisco to the Pacific Northwest,* where he served as mate and captain
on a number of vessels.
When his sea career was over, he worked as superintendent of deck rigging
at the Port Newark naval shipyard at the beginning of World War I and
then began his decade-long work as a writer. His main contributions to
American sea literature include a novel, The Flying Bo’sun: A Mystery of the
Sea (1920), and a collection of stories, The Cook and the Captain Bold
(1924). He also published a less successful novel, Swansea Dan (1929), and
two volumes of autobiography, Ocean Echoes (1922) and An Ocean Boyhood
(1927). The Flying Bo’sun and The Cook and the Captain Bold are notable for Mason’s engaging, plain style, for the inclusion of memorable anecdotes
from small commercial vessels during the last years of sail, and for Mason’s
understated authority as an experienced seaman.