Archive for the ‘British’ Category

A Recent Interview With Julian Stockwin

April 11, 2018

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Kydd series over the years. This interview with the author coincides with the release of the 20th novel in the series. BTW, if you do not subscribe to Quarterdeck, you are really missing out on news, reviews, and interviews.

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Portraits of British Admirals

April 3, 2018

The National Portrait Gallery holds well over 200,000 portraits of numerous people from all walks of life. I have narrowed its collection to a specific sub-group labelled Admirals. Here you will find in alphabetical order all portraits identified with the heading of “admiral”. This includes a small of number of non-English admirals but the vast majority are those English admirals both familiar and not so familiar, ranging from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Portrayed in various mediums – oil paintings, busts, engravings, pen and ink drawings, mezzotints – these representations are accompanied by quite a bit of information such as clicking “extended catalogue entry” embedded in many of the portraits or by activating a “database” link that is present in some of these portraits. Another added feature is a listing of historical events that occurred at the time of the creation of the portrait; for example, a 1581 watercolor of Sir Francis Drake has appended to it “events of 1581”. In addition, numerous links are provided for each portrait allowing deeper dives into this rich collection. Of course, you can search for other worthies as well; I just limited it to a more manageable selection. One can easily get lost in this veritable treasure trove of likenesses.

Birth of the British Navy

January 11, 2018

The only monarch labeled “the Great”, Alfred was instrumental in having constructed some of the largest oared vessels of his day. Please read the entry for the year 897 in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles. John Asser’s contemporary biography of Alfred bears testimony to Alfred’s use of ships in his various battles with the Danes.

“Christmas at Sea” by Robert Louis Stevenson

December 22, 2017

“The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seamen scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.”

The rest is here. To see his tangential connection with the sea, please read this.

How Samuel Pepys Spent Christmas

December 19, 2017

He can be called by many names and guises: one of the great diarists whose eyewitness accounts of the Great Plague and the London Fire of 1666 are still gripping today; the father of the modern British navy; avid collector of books and manuscripts, among his other accomplishments. Dip into his diary to see how he celebrated/observed Christmas

How Admiral Nelson Really Looked

December 13, 2017

Most depictions of Admiral Nelson reflect an idealistic image of Great Britain’s leading sailor; the toll that his wounds took on him are almost always glossed over. A newly restored portrait shows what the rigors of war wreaked upon his visage; it is a sobering realization.

The Funeral of Lord Nelson

October 12, 2017

The hearse carrying Lord Nelson’s coffin is seen below in an 1806 aquatint. Contemporary accounts of the funeral can be found in: Fairburn’s (2nd) edition of the funeral of admiral lord Nelson (1806); [London] Gazette, January 14, 1806; Monthly Mirror, January 1806; and more depictions of the funeral.

(The Funeral Car of our late Vice Admiral  Horatio Viscount Nelson)

Writings of Admiral Samuel Hood

October 11, 2017

Admiral Hood had a long and distinguished career in the Royal Navy, but few of his writings are publicly available. His autobiography (including some correspondence) is contained on pages 1-37 of volume 17 of the Naval Chronicle, and there was an edition of his letters – Letters written by Sir Samuel Hood (Viscount Hood) in 1781-2-3, illustrated by extracts from logs and public records – published in 1895. In addition, scattered official letters from earlier times can be found in Letters to the ministry, from Governor Bernard, General Gage, and Commodore Hood (1769).

However, a new major project – Georgian Papers Online – has uncovered many more letters by this worthy. Identified as Letters from Rear-Adm. Sir Samuel (later Lord) Hood to General Jacob de Budé, including some copies of related correspondence to and from Hood, this source contains writings to and from Hood that have never been available before. While the documents themselves are in various hands, the full descriptions of each letter, as well as transcriptions in some cases, allow the reader to fully appreciate these missives.

 

How Does the House of Lords Work?

September 20, 2017

Customs and Traditions of the House of Lords sheds some light on how this body operates. In a short but informative way, this entity is examined from its inception. Numerous footnotes and appendices help to explain what this institution actually does. For those of us not really familiar with the workings of the House of Lords, this primer really does help. So when we encounter Lord Bombast or Viscount Haughty in our readings, we can place them in context.

The First Pacific Voyages

September 6, 2017

This 1990 monograph – Background To Discovery: Pacific Exploration from Dampier to Cook – explores the first English and French incursions into the area. Editor Derek Howse has assembled a first-rate team of authors to tell the tales of that era, supplemented by informative notes and explanations.