It’s a question I’m quite often asked – what books do I suggest would be useful to acquire in order to learn more about the period I write about. It was hard to make a selection from the vast range of wonderful titles out there, so I’ve decided it warranted two blog posts – here’s the second clutch I plucked from my shelves that I think readers wanting to delve deeper into the fascinating Age of Fighting Sail might find useful. You can catch up [ here ] with the first
Broadsides by James Davey and Richard Johns
A delightful exploration of how contemporary caricaturists saw the Royal Navy in the second half of the eighteenth century, with prints from the superb collection at the National Maritime Museum. Will appeal to both naval buffs and students of Georgian society and culture alike.
Maritime Power and the Struggle for Freedom by Peter Padfield
Padfield’s illuminating book charts the epic struggle between Great Britain and revolutionary and Napoleonic France, revealing both the hidden forces beneath the surface of events and the strategies and battle tactics which ensured Britain’s final victory.
Jane Austen and the Navy by Brian Southam
Two of Jane Austen’s brothers served in the Royal Navy, and later became admirals. Her novels, especially Mansfield Park and Persuasion reflect her interest in, and admiration for, the Navy. Based on family papers and naval records, Southam’s book shows the novelist as a historian of Nelson’s Navy – not the Navy of great victories at sea but the Navy at home and of sailors amongst their family and friends.
Naval History of Great Britain by William James
In the first volume James examines aspects as the naval events at Toulon in 1793 where Sidney Smith burnt half of the French Mediterranean fleet, Howe’s victory at the Glorious First of June and the Royal Navy’s role in colonial expeditions. The volumes can be purchased separately, or as the complete set – and provide an unsurpassed historical record of Kydd’s Navy, both on the national and international scale.
The Marine Art of Geoff Hunt by Geoff Hunt
“I have always painted, as far back as I can remember, and always ships…” Geoff Hunt, former President of the Royal Society of Marine Artists is deservedly recognised as possibly the premier nautical painter of his generation. This magnificent book contains over 100 paintings and sketches, and is enriched by Geoff’s personal discussion of techniques and artistic influences. In the chapter “Illustrating the Naval writers” he takes us behind the scenes of three of the covers of the Kydd series.
Young Nelsons by D. A. B. Ronald
Drawing on letters, poems and first-hand accounts, this book tells the fascinating (and sometimes poignant) stories of Britain’s boy sailors during the Napoleonic Wars. Nelson himself went to sea at twelve and at the Battle of Trafalgar there were hundreds of young Nelsons, among them 13-year-old Norwich Duff, who was aboard Mars and witnessed the death of her brave captain – a man who was also his father. It fell to the lad to have to write to his mother reporting the tragic event. Among other famous young Nelsons was Prince William Henry, who was sent to sea at age 13 and later to be King of England.