Olla-Podrida: Julian Stockwin Newsletter, July 2011


O L L A – P O D R I D A

for fans of Julian Stockwin’s historical action-adventure fiction


July 2011

[Olla-podrida: an affectionate 18th C. term for a colourful medley of items]



Broadly Boats News

Nighthawk News

Firetrench Directory

+ An evening with Julian
On Saturday July 2, Waterstone’s Drake Circus Plymouth is hosting “An Evening with Julian Stockwin,” 6:30 – 7:30 pm. The event is free; further information: 0843 290 8551.

+ Rave reader reviews for CONQUEST
Joe Zerbey, president and general manager of a large newspaper in the States emailed Julian: “I have just this minute finished reading CONQUEST. WOW! The Kydd series just keeps getting better and better. I couldn’t put it down … The story is mesmerizing, gets one’s blood rushing. I felt the deck move, I sweated with Kydd on that river. For a moment I thought Renzi was a goner, but wouldn’t, couldn’t accept that. In the day-to-day running of a newspaper, Kydd brings such emotion, such excitement – but real relaxation – that I tend to leave all that business tension aside as I join Kydd as a Jack Tar and proud of it! I must insist that you finish the next book post-haste, my good man! I will be as restless as an ox-eye until I have it in my hands.”

And here’s a selection from Amazon:-
* “CONQUEST ticks all the usual boxes for our duo, unrelenting plot and pace, but always told with passion and historical depth.”
* “You feel transported back in time, the book is a mini tardis!”
* “Set against impeccably researched history Kydd’s saga continues to unfurl with Stockwin’s crisp prose and attention to authenticity. There are adventures aplenty…which keep pages turning.”
* “Stockwin brilliantly links in fact with fiction and I found the whole read engrossing and entertaining… Stockwin leads the field in his portrayal of life in the Cape in 1806/7, the real characters of the time and his ability to avoid clutter and cut to the chase.”
* “I couldn’t put it down. I won’t give it 5 stars, I give it 10!”

+ And still more plaudits…
“Stockwin has achieved another first with this book, and successfully made the jump from the traditions of fictional stories set in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.”

+ News from Art Marine
Geoff Hunt has completed his Hornblower’s Ships series with a stunning pair of limited edition prints: “West Indies Squadron” and “Trouble off Elsinore.”

+ Out and About in June
Julian and Kathy were busy last month with author talks and signings around the South-west of England. Although Julian has been invited to a range of venues, from tall ships to prisons, he had never been serenaded at an event before! This happened during his book-signing at Falmouth Bookseller during the seventh Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival when The Falmouth Shout arrived and lustily performed such favourites as “Spanish Ladies,” “Nelson’s Blood” and “Haul on the Bowline”. We’ve a CD of selections from the Falmouth shout to give away, along with a copy of STOCKWIN’S MARITIME MISCELLANY. See CONTESTS.

+ The KYDD Cap
New stocks just in!

+ Pride of Toledo
On July 1, the historic museum ship and Great Lakes freighter S.S. “Willis B. Boyer” will be re-christened the “Col. James M. Schoonmaker,” her original name. Doing the honours will be Col. Schoonmaker’s grandson James Schoonmaker II. The 1812 privateer “Lynx” will be on hand to salute her.

+ Publication dates for CONQUEST
Out in the UK/ Australia and New Zealand last month, CONQUEST will soon be arriving in bookstores around the world:
South Africa – this month
Canada – September
USA – October

It is also available as an ebook.

+ Travels with Kydd
Julian’s guest blog on the Hodder & Stoughton website is about his location research.

Bight, prime, load, ram, make ready, present, fire!!!

Recently Kathy and Julian had the pleasure of attending a display put on by the Napoleonic re-enactment group the 32nd Regiment of Foot. It was not the first time the Stockwins had met up with these splendid fellows. When Julian gave a talk at the Appledore Book Festival he was driven to the venue in an open carriage, escorted by the 32nd!

Sergeant of the 32nd Tiny Castle tells us more:

“Our recreated Napoleonic Regiment was formed by people not content with just reading about how it was, we now stand on the battlefields authentically dressed as redcoats, fighting with weapons as they fought.

I served twenty-two years in the Royal Navy leaving as a Petty Officer in 1998. I have always enjoyed historical novels but particularly any focusing on the Napoleonic wars.

An inability to choose a gift for Christmas was resolved with my family clubbing together to send me on a Leger Battlefield Tour of Waterloo and the embers of my interest were fanned into flames. Back in the UK I was roped into firing a Brown Bess musket at Crownhill Fort Plymouth and trying on a red jacket – I was hooked!

Never one to enjoy just research for its own sake I discovered talking to people about the period and tactics while dressed as a soldier made it more interesting and real.

As potential members came along we joined the Napoleonic Association and started to learn tactics with hundreds and sometimes thousands of others, how to work with and against artillery and how to cope with the four legged Regency equivalent of the modern day tank – horses.

After close liaison with the police we acquired a good collection of muskets and learnt the safe procedures for keeping and using black powder flintlocks.

Our membership of about 20 members has interests in music (drum & fife) veterans’ graves, weapons, research, tactics, regency life and making and maintaining uniform and equipment. I am sure some join us just for a good ruck with the French!

We now have events at least twice a month in the UK or abroad, some with the Napoleonic Association and some are us displaying to the public in the Devon/Cornwall area at stately homes and local events.

Our most adventurous trip was to Corunna in Spain where we wanted to show our respects on the 200th anniversary of that battle and lay a wreath on Sir John Moore’s Tomb. On arrival we were whisked away to civic receptions, cocktail parties and memorial ceremonies – a great week away and one I will always remember.

In May this year we were part of 2,000+ enthusiasts from some 20 countries that met together on the field of Albuera in Spain.

But the most poignant moment for us was standing on the spot where the regiment stood in 1815 at Waterloo, the atmosphere of that battlefield is like no other and June each year will see us returning to this hallowed land.

Although numbers were restricted to 1,000 this year the experience of standing in square and feeling the earth beneath your boots tremble as the French cavalry charge makes your heart race and I defy anyone not to clench their buttocks on sighting the cuirassiers. As we lay in the wet rye as they did 200 years ago waiting for the command to stand up and fire our thoughts must have been similar – ‘please don’t let my firelock misfire’.

The numbers of enthusiasts willing to don the scarlet jacket is gratifying in the UK but there is always a need for younger recruits. We have a good stock of uniforms and kit, which we lend to recruits to tide them over until they can acquire their own; to fully equip a soldier for battle is not a cheap undertaking but with care kit lasts for many years.

The regiment has a number of events planned from July onwards, which include a full battle weekend at the Napoleonic fort at Berry Head Brixham Devon, the Jane Austen Festival in Bath as well as supporting our local British Legion in Liskeard with a firing display.

For fun we often ‘play’ with a local pirate group at Charlestown Harbour where the backdrop of a square rigged tall ship adds to the atmosphere. It does us good to be the wicked redcoats being booed by the scurvy pirates. We are always looking for people interested in military life of the period to come along and see if they would like to help Wellington’s army defeat the upstart Napoleon.”

– each month Julian shares his thoughts on a subject of his own choice

+ The future of books…
“This year, 2011, is a special milestone for me. It is the tenth year I have been a published author; in 2001 my debut novel KYDD was launched. Since then I’ve brought a further 11 Kydd titles out plus STOCKWIN’S MARITIME MISCELLANY, my little non-fiction tome.

Back at the beginning of the new millennium who would have predicted the huge changes in publishing that were to come – consolidation and merging of the big publishing houses, closure of so many independent bookstores, the growth of bookselling in supermarkets, ebooks, digital downloads of audiobooks. The list goes on…

In a recent article in the newspaper ‘The Independent’ I read: ‘The physical paper book is being circled by a shoal of sharks, with sales down 9 percent this year alone. It is being chewed by the ebook. It is being gored by the death of the bookshop and the library…’

Challenging times ahead, it seems.

I am in two minds about ebooks. Personally, I still love the physical touch of a book and am privileged to have a not inconsiderable personal library of all kinds of books covering topics as diverse as ancient Greece to computers to the sea. There is nothing that takes you out of yourself as much as immersion in a good book.

I don’t have an e-reader yet. This is not because I am an old stick in the mud, it just doesn’t seem to fit my lifestyle at the moment. I can see it’s a great idea for someone who travels a lot, or to take on vacation when you know you’re going to be reading a number of books. But when I travel it’s location research, with little time for recreational reading. The electronic devices I most use then are my little digital camera and pocket dictaphone.

Will I get an e-reader? Probably, yes, to try it out. Who knows I may become hooked as many people are!

Although I do have concerns for the future of books I believe something as important to humanity as the book will never disappear. It will continue to evolve. Books may be under threat but reading – never!

One format that has emerged recently is the flipback book, which opens top to bottom and has sideways-printed text, so you get a full length novel in little more than the size of an iPhone.

Paperback, hardback, trade paperback, flipback, audiobook, Braille edition, large-print, digital download, translated editions, ebook – that’s quite a range of choices and I’m sure there are more on the horizon not yet devised.

Do you have an opinion on the future of books? Email me on <julian@julianstockwin.com> – I look forward to hearing your thoughts!”

For a chance to go into the hat for a CD featuring the Falmouth Shout plus a copy of STOCKWIN’S MARITIME MISCELLANY what is the connection between Falmouth and the battle of Trafalgar?

And we have a signed paperback of VICTORY for the first correct answer drawn to this question: How old was Nelson when he died?

Emails to <admin@julianstockwin.com> Please included your full postal address. Deadline: July 25.

Congratulations to all the winners last month – an unabridged audiobook of VICTORY is in the post to Jeffery Brown, and a copy of CONQUEST goes to Neil Harrison.

Something for everyone: four very different books to recommend this month, along with a dvd on the Waterloo campaign:-

“Recollections of Life on the Prison Ship Jersey”
by Thomas Dring, Published by Westholme Publishing ISBN 978 1 59416 122 3

In 1782 Thomas Dring, an American privateer, was captured by the British and sent to the infamous prison ship “Jersey”, a dismasted hulk anchored in the East River off New York City. After two months Dring was exchanged (officers could find themselves benefiting from this arrangement but it did not apply to the ratings) and released but it is estimated that more than 11,000 men perished in British prison ships during the course of the Revolutionary war.

This book contains the complete text of Dring’s graphic account of his experience (written some 40 years after his time aboard). A lengthy introductory essay by David Swain provides background information on both British and American prisoners-of-war and places Dring’s experiences in the context of the times.

Today, the Martyrs Monument in Fort Greene Park, Brooklyn, honours the memory of those who died aboard “Jersey” and other hulks.

“Sustaining the Fleet 1793-1815 – War, the British Navy and the Contractor State”
by Roger Knight and Martin Wilcox, Published by Boydell Press ISBN 9781843835646

Provisioning the fleet and the army overseas during the wars between 1793 and 1815 was a major undertaking for Britannia. This book examines how the Victualling Board in London handled this enormous task, focusing in particular on the contractors who provided huge quantities of a vast range of commodities.

Of special interest to readers of Julian’s books may be chapter 9, dealing with Zephaniah Job, who has a role in THE ADMIRAL’S DAUGHTER. As Julian alluded in the book, Job was not just a smuggler based in Polperro, but a merchant, banker and contractor; in fact his activities were typical of many small merchants in ports around the British Isles.

Case studies of Basil Cochrane and the victualling of the fleet in the East Indies 1792-1806 and Samuel Paget and the Sea Provisions Contract at Great Yarmouth 1796-1802 are also presented.

The book concludes that it was “upon the success of the contractors that the war at sea was won.”

“Poxed & Scurvied – The Story of Sickness and Health at Sea”
by Kevin Brown, Published by Seaforth ISBN 978 1 84832 063 5

The author is curator of the Alexander Fleming Museum and an expert in the history of medicine. This fascinating book traces the problems of malnourishment, disease and injury faced by the seafarer from fifteenth century right up to the modern period.

The Royal Navy’s role was very significant in improving the fate of the seafarer. Brown goes into some detail about Lord Nelson’s real concern for Jack Tar’s welfare – and the specific actions he took in such areas as shipboard diet, hygiene, morale and naval hospitals ashore.

Brown also shows how in many ways attempts to address the specific needs of the seafarer developed wider implications for society as a whole; a number of scientific breakthroughs were in fact of universal benefit.

“The British Naval Staff in the First World War”
By Nicholas Black, Published by Boydell Press ISBN 978 1 84383 655 1

This book challenges previous assessments of the Naval Staff of the Admiralty in the 1914-18 war, namely that it was the depository of the “nondescript” and the “maimed and hurt”.

The First World War was unique in so many ways. Not only was it the first major war not under sail but huge fleets were to be based in Scapa Flow rather than Plymouth or Portsmouth. Mines, not blockades, closed ports. And there was utterly unforeseen technology to deal with, such as submarines, aircraft and not least of which was wireless – which allowed direct access for the first time to the commander on the spot. These factors completely changed the Admiralty and its methods. Black shows how the Naval Staff developed from a small and overstretched organisation and rose to successfully meet these new challenges.

The Waterloo Campaign DVD
“Ligny and Quatre Bras”
Published by The Battefield History TV Ltd ISBN 5060247620022
available from Pen & Sword Books

This is the first dvd in a new four-part series which covers the entire 1815 Waterloo Campaign from Napoleon’s return to France and ensuring battles to his final pursuit and eventual surrender to the British. As well as re-enactment footage shot on the actual battlefields of 200 years ago, there is compelling in-depth analysis from authorities in the field.


When William Pitt the Younger died in 1806 his last words were widely reported to have been, “I think I could manage one of Bellamy’s veal pies.”

Bellamy’s canteen was one of the dining rooms in the House of Commons. It (along with the rest of the Palace of Westminster) was burned down in 1834. In 1773 John Bellamy, the deputy housekeeper of the House of Commons, set up a dining room as a private venture. It became a parliamentary institution over the 60 years of its existence. The name lives on; “Bellamy’s Cafeteria” is one of the eating establishments there today.

The Georgians were very fond of pies and had them cold at picnics and for light suppers, as well as part of formal dinners. A typical large dinner entertainment might include a first course of cod, mutton, soup, chicken pie, pudding and vegetables. And for the second course – pigeons, asparagus, veal sweetbreads, lobster, apricot tart, syllabubs and jellies.

Contemporary recipe books offer instructions for dishes popular today like chicken pie, beef pie and apple pie (using cooking apples called codlins), but also many that are not so familiar – ox-cheek pie, calf’s head pie, Yorkshire giblet pie.

Game pies prepared for the prosperous gentry could be very elaborate. Hannah Glasse, in her best-selling “The Art of Cookery made Plain and Easy”, first published in 1747, gave a recipe for a Christmas pie that included pigeon, partridge, a chicken and a goose, all boned and placed one inside the other, and then placed within an enormous turkey.

Benjamin Disraeli in his novel “Venetia” describes an English dinner around 1770 that included: “that masterpiece of the culinary art, a great battalia pie, in which the bodies of chickens, pigeons, and rabbits, were embalmed in spices, cock’s combs, and savoury balls, and well bedewed with one of those rich sauces of claret, anchovy, and sweet herbs … [on] the cover of this pastry … the curious cook had contrived to represent all the once-living forms that were now entombed in that gorgeous sepulchre.”

And as to Bellamy’s veal pie – it now seems that Pitt’s last words had nothing to do with this Georgian favourite. He said, “Oh, my country! How I love my country.”

During his time in the Royal Australian Navy Julian, returning to his ship in the early hours, often enjoyed meat pies from a quintessential Sydney icon, “Harry’s Cafe de Wheels”. It was popular with sailors, soldiers, cabbies and celebrities alike. In 1978 Rear Admiral David Martin – over a pie and a glass of champagne – commissioned the eatery “HMAS Harry’s”!


When rival American liner “United States” overhauled the famous “Queen Elizabeth” the US captain signalled: “Sorry to have to pass you!” The reply came: “Think nothing of it. A real lady never likes to be seen in fast company.”

Coming next month: We’ll have a special feature on HMS “Warrior”, along with all the usual favourites…

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