Forester took Hornblower's life through to the end of hostilities in 1815 before addressing the back story. As well as the novels there were several short stories, some of which are no longer in print.C Northcote Parkinson, who was Foresters literary executor, wrote a fictional biography The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower. This is a fascinating read once you know the stories but it isn't clear how much came from Parkingson's own imagination and how much was communicated to him during Forester's life or derived from his notes after death.
Hornblower himself is a fascinating character, brilliant but riddled with self doubt. With the stories written between the 30s and the 50s Forester is a little reticent about Hornblower's love life but he still managed an affair as well as two marriages.
As the novels weren't written in order we start with number six where we meet the young Horatio as a seventeen year old midshipman.