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The Naval History of Great Britain,
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JAMES, William.

The Naval History of Great Britain,

From the Declaration of War by France in 1793, to the Accession of George IV. A New Edition, with Considerable Additions and Notes, and an Account of the Burmese War and the Battle of Navarino.

Published: London, Richard Bentley, 1837

Stock code: 61163

Price: £1,250

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This item is on show at 100 Fulham Road (map)

A “monument of accuracy – it has stood the test of time and remains the best account of the naval side of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars” (Kemp, The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea, p. 425). First conceived of when he was held prisoner in America during the War of 1812 the Naval History is a remarkable work. Working under the motto “Verité sans Peur”, James set himself standards of inclusiveness and accuracy extraordinary for the 19th century. His aim was to compile “… an exact account of every operation of naval war during the period named. He consulted not only published works, especially the official narratives, both British and French, but also the logs of the ships, and, whenever possible, the participants themselves” (ODNB). Successively mined by Forester and O’Brian for incident and colour, this well-written history is not only essential reference for the period, but makes excellent reading.

6 volumes, octavo (213 133 mm). Contemporary dark purple grained calf by Cross of Greenwich – tickets to pastedowns – double red morocco labels, raised bands with gilt rules, compartments filled with rope-twist blind tooling, single broad gilt fillet panel to the boards, enclosing a dentelle panel in blind, marbled edges, dun endpapers. 24 portraits, 38 battle-plans in the text, 28 folding tables. A little rubbed at the extremities, light toning, a very good set.

Bibliography: NMM, V, 2158.

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