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In loving memory of Jesse F. Knight

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.

On December 6, 2008, this website lost its Co-founder and original Content Editor, Jesse F. Knight.

Dedicated to promoting the life and works of Rafael Sabatini, Jesse wrote countless articles about the author, edited several collections of Sabatini short stories, served as president of the Rafael Sabatini Society, and co-authored a comprehensive bio-bibliography. As the world's foremost Sabatini expert, he was always eager to share his extensive knowledge with fellow enthusiasts.

This site is a testament to Jesse's unrivaled generosity, passion, and scholarship

Jesse Forrester Knight, III was born in Devil's Lake, North Dakota on February 28, 1946 to Jesse F. and Betty (Tuneberg) Knight. His family later moved to Bismarck, North Dakota, where, as a child, Jesse enjoyed reading, dreaming of being a writer, more reading, impressing his little sister, and skipping school to read.

In his early thirties, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. There, in the land of coastal fog and Santa Clara valley apricot orchards, his searching mind delighted in the distinctive culture, intellectual history, and opportunities for creative growth. After working in the booming Silicon Valley electronics industry for several years, he returned to writing full time and enjoyed travelling across the country and around the world with his muse and life partner, Dollie Smith. Together, they moved to Vancouver, Washington, where Jesse loved to gaze upon the peaceful waters of Vancouver Lake in the quiet of the morning.

His interests were wide and varied. He studied literature throughout his life and was well versed in the writings of George Sterling, O. Henry, Edgar Pangborn, Kate Ross, H.E. Bates, Mabel Seeley, Ayn Rand, Saki, and, above all, Rafael Sabatini. He also appreciated the art of Maxfield Parrish, particularly the wonderful New England landscapes, which covered his office. He found great pleasure in researching the American Revolutionary War and deeply admired the founding fathers of America. Jesse believed above all else in being an individual.

An accomplished author, he published many short stories, biographies, book reviews, and plays. He especially loved to write ghost stories in which the ghost was kind and loving.

Jesse also had a deep passion for music, particularly classical music. His favorite classical composers were Sergei Rachmaninoff and Wilhelm Peterson-Berger. In the later years of his life, he discovered light music, for which he became a great advocate. "Without exception," Jesse said, explaining his devotion to light music, "it is entirely lacking in despair [and] life affirming." He researched hundreds of compositions and many different composers, his favorites being Ernest Tomlinson, Haydn Wood, and Leroy Anderson. He wrote an article about light music for the online arts journal, Aristos and also presented "The Delights of Light Music" at the Atlas Society's 2008 Summer Seminar in Portland, Oregon.

Jesse died on December 6, 2008 as a result of a brain hemorrhage. His life partner, Dollie Smith, his sister, his children, and many of his friends were able to spend time with him in the hospital prior to his death.

A park bench dedicated to his memory is located in Esther Short Park, Vancouver, WA.

A Tribute to Jesse F. Knight

by Ruth Heredia

On behalf of the members of the Rafael Sabatini Society and Rafael Sabatini Discussion Group

A very gentil parfait Knight

For a long time before his sad passing from our midst, these words of Chaucer had become associated in my mind with dear Jesse F. Knight. It is strange, indeed extraordinary, that someone who was only an "ethereal" acquaintance to those of us in the Rafael Sabatini Society and Rafael Sabatini Discussion Group should become such a valued friend and elicit such an outpouring of grief. But while Jesse was an extraordinary person, he was also something of a mystery to many of us.

And now we shall never know him better...

From Jesse's own words, however, we of the Sabatini Society and Sabatini Discussion Group can glean enough to sketch an outline of a man of many interests and much ability.

He was born on February 28, 1946 in Devil's Lake, North Dakota. His parentage was a mixture of English and Scandinavian, and he lost both his parents and grandparents when he was quite young. Jesse lived in North Dakota during the early part of his life, and he spent what proved to be his final years in Washington State.

In Jesse's family home, he grew up loving classical music, a love that expanded to include many other kinds of other music. This love bore fruit all through his life and is evident throughout his writing. But Jesse's ever-seeking mind, so reminiscent of the speaker in Tennyson's Ulysses, carried him into so many regions that it is a wonder he managed to do all he did: earn a living, travel across the country and around the world, write and publish a variety of articles, stories, and plays, participate in music and literary societies, track down clues about his favourite writers (he interviewed the nephews of the first Mrs. Rafael Sabatini, for instance), and correspond with many people he only knew via email—with a kindness and personal interest that made each one feel like a close friend. Nor should we suppose that he did not regard his internet acquaintances as friends: indeed, Jesse made time for everyone, and there seemed to be no limit to his generosity. He had the kind of patience and courtesy that belong to another, earlier age.

Going through my record of correspondence with Jesse, which began in October 2003, I found this statement in an email dated December 12, 2003: "I most assuredly am NOT looking forward to old age." This was grievous to read in the light of what happened less than five years later.

Jesse F. Knight, that wonderful man and irreplaceable friend, has passed through the Gates of Doom to where he can meet all the musicians and writers he ever wished to interview. Eternal rest would be alien to his questing spirit, so let us wish him joy of Eternal Light.

With this in mind, let us dry our eyes and carry on with some of the work he began.

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Last updated 1 February 2011. Biography copyright 2011 by David March. Tribute copyright 2009 by Ruth Heredia.
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