- Publisher: Quercus Publishing
- Format: Paperback | 416 pages
- Dimensions: 134mm x 212mm x 32mm | 540g
- Publication date: 2 September 2010
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 1849162611
- ISBN 13: 9781849162616
- Illustrations note: 32pp colour plates
- Sales rank: 161,777
J.M.W. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire Tugged to her Last Berth to be Broken Up (1838) was his masterpiece. Sam Willis tells the real-life story behind this remarkable painting. The 98-gun Temeraire warship broke through the French and Spanish line directly astern of Nelson's flagship Victory during the Battle of Trafalgar (1805), saving Nelson at a crucial moment in the battle, and, in the words of John Ruskin, fought until her sides ran 'wet with the long runlets of English blood...those pale masts that stayed themselves up against the war-ruin, shaking out their ensigns through the thunder, till sail and ensign dropped.' It is a story that unites the art of war as practised by Nelson with the art of war as depicted by Turner and, as such, it ranges across an extensive period of Britain's cultural and military history in ways that other stories do not. The result is a detailed picture of British maritime power at two of its most significant peaks in the age of sail: the climaxes of both the Seven Years' War (1756-63) and the Napoleonic Wars (1798-1815). It covers every aspect of life in the sailing navy, with particular emphasis on amphibious warfare, disease, victualling, blockade, mutiny and, of course, fleet battle, for it was at Trafalgar that the Temeraire really won her fame. An evocative and magnificent narrative history by a master historian.
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Sam Willis has lectured at Bristol University and at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, and consults on maritime painting for Christie's. Sam spent eighteen months as a Square Rig Able Seaman, sailing the tall ships used in the Hornblower television series and Channel 4's award-winning film Shackleton, and is a consultant to the BBC's Coast. He is the author of Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: The Art of Sailing Warfare and the highly successful Fighting Ships series for Quercus.
'*****Brilliant ... Sam Willis has written a magnificent tribute to these superb ships and all who sailed in them' Mail on Sunday. 'Cleverly uses the microcosm of the life story of one ship to reflect the wider narrative of the decades-long struggle between Britain and France for mastery of the seas' Sunday Times. 'Willis offers an engaging biography of the Temeraire and gives a detailed picture of life in the sailing navy ... (His) book is infused with his experience and knowledge of seafaring' Times Literary Supplement. 'an elegant lament for the vanished warships of the world and an eloquent plea for the preservation of those still afloat' Bernard Cornwell in Wall Street Journal.
Table of contents
List of illustrations. Maps. Preface. The Escaping Temeraire. The Captured Temeraire. The Amphibious Temeraire. The New Temeraire. The Blockading Temeraire. The Mutinous Temeraire. The Trafalgar Temeraire. The Baltic and Iberian Temeraire. The Retired Temeraire. The Fighting Temeraire. Postscript. Epilogue: On Iconic Warships. Appendix 1: Ship Diagrams. Appendix 2: The crew of HMS Temeraire at the Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805. Appendix 3: Poems and Songs. Glossary. Notes. Bibliography. Index.