Robert Michael Ballantyne is a Scottish author chiefly famous for his adventure story "The Coral Island" (full name The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean), his masterpiece originally published in 1858.
In the nineteenth century, "The Coral Island" was among the most prominent and popular juvenile Robinsonades of its era; however, today, the novel is best remembered for inspiring William Golding's 1954 dystopian novel, "The Lord of the Flies". ,
"The Coral Island" is a classic example of the boy's adventure story, a prominent fixture in the children's literature of the Victorian period. Depicting exotic locales and adventures—often featuring young male protagonists—books such as "The Coral Island" dominated boy's fiction of the late nineteenth century, trumpeting the British lifestyle and its Victorian ethos to eager young readers. While the text has faded into relative obscurity, it remains the most enduring work from Ballantyne's extensive canon and is frequently cited in critical discussions of "The Lord of the Flies" and pre-Colonialist children's literature.
"The Coral Island" tells the story of Ralph Rover, a traveller at heart that has always dreamed of shipping out to the South Seas islands. He finally convinces his aging parents to let him go and find his way in the world. But the islands that Ralph finds are not as idyllic as in his dreams. Shipwrecked on a large, uninhabited island, Ralph and his fellow survivors, Jim and Peterkin, discover a world of hostile natives and villainous pirates. Danger, high adventure, and wonders of the sea greet them at every turn. When all seems lost, they find help from an unexpected source.