Nearly two centuries after the Battle of Trafalgar, the person of Horatio Nelson still captures the imaginations of those who study him. Unarguably this frail man who did so much in spite of his blind eye and missing arm is one of the most colorful figures of the Napoleonic Wars, an era of colorful figures rivaled only by those of World War II. Many books have been written about his exploits and his personality.
Nelson: A Personal History
By Christopher Hibbert
Published by Addison-Wesley
This volume is an excellent one-volume biography of Lord Nelson for the general reader, giving roughly equal weight to his public and private lives. It also includes a number of color reproductions of artworks relating to Lord Nelson, a pleasant change from the black-and-white photographs which do not do those paintings justice.
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Every Man Will Do His Duty
by Dean King, editor
Published by Henry Holt and Company
This book is a collection of primary-source documents, letters and other writings by individuals who actually lived at the time of Nelson and describe events they personally witnessed or were involved in. It is an indispensable stepping-off point for the researcher interested in delving into the extensive primary-source literature relating to Nelson and his world.
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The Mammoth Book of Life Before the Mast
Edited by Jon E. Lewis
Published by Carroll and Graf
Published in 2001
Here is yet another anthology of primary source texts from the Age of Sail. Although there are many that are familiar from many sources, such as Dr. Scott's account of Nelson's death, there are many others that have never before been published.
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Such is the fascination for Nelson's character and the times in which he lived that even writers of fiction have taken them as source material for their writings.
By Barry Unsworth
Published by Doubleday
This novel is the story of a man obsessed, a biographer who has become so deeply identified with the subject of his work that he has lost track of the boundaries between self and work. Charles Cleasby has come to see Nelson as his own "bright twin," and is tortured by the need to clear Nelson's reputation of association with a brutal massacre. He ultimately travels to Italy, where he will be irrevocably changed by what he experiences.
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The Aubrey/Maturin Chronicles by Patrick O'Brian
This widely-popular series, dealing with the ongoing partnership between Royal Navy officer Jack Aubrey and physician Stephen Maturin, has grown to twenty books. Although rich in naval terminology, the books introduce the intricacies of life at sea with exquisite smoothness.
Click here for the complete list of the Aubrey/Maturin books.
The Hornblower books by C.S. Forester
Before Aubrey and Maturin were more than a gleam in Patrick O'Brian's eye, there were the Hornblower books. The chronicles of Horatio Hornblower, an officer of the Royal Navy in the days of sail, have been enjoyed by many armchair seafarers, young and old.
Click here for the complete list of the Hornblower books.
The Ramage books by Dudley Pope
In the same tradition as Hornblower are Dudley Pope's Ramage books, which chronicle the adventures of the young Lord Ramage, a nobleman with a painful past, in the Royal Navy. However, Dudley Pope was also a professional historian who had written a number of non-fiction books dealing with naval warfare in the age of Nelson.
Click here for the complete list of the Ramage books.
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Last updated March 20, 2000