Southey on Nelson

Robert Southey and Prof. Richard Holmes, O.B.E.

This short, brilliant, action-packed biography appeared only eight years after Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar (a scene unforgettably described). It helped transform Nelson into the most popular wartime hero that Britain has ever placed on top of a column. It first gave currency to the proverbial stories of his courage and exhibitionism, from the ‘blind eye’ at Copenhagen, to ‘Kiss me, Hardy’ and the scandal of ‘Beloved Emma’ at Naples. It was written by the romantic poet and historian Robert Southey, a one-time radical who was converted to patriotism by Nelson’s shining (though not ‘untarnished’) example.