Napoleon Series Archive 2014

Coming-Youth, Heroism and War Propaganda

Youth, Heroism and War Propaganda: Britain and the Young Maritime Hero, 1745-1820 (Bloomsbury Studies in Military History)
D. A. B. Ronald
Series: Bloomsbury Studies in Military History
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (April 23, 2015)
ISBN-13: 978-1472530820

Youth, Heroism and Naval Propaganda explores the young maritime hero became a major new figure of war propaganda in the second half of the long eighteenth century. At that time, Britain was searching for a new national identity, and the young maritime hero and his exploits conjured images of vigour, energy, enthusiasm and courage. Adopted as centrepiece in a campaign of concerted war-propaganda leading up to the Battle of Trafalgar, the young hero came to represent much that was quintessentially British at this major turning-point in the Nation's history. By drawing on a wide range of sources, this study shows how the young hero gave maritime youth a symbolic power which it had never before had in Britain. It offers a valuable contribution to the field of British military and naval history, as well as the study of British identity, youth, heroism and propaganda.


Douglas Ronald is an independent scholar and has a PhD from the University of Exeter, UK.


Youth, Heroism and Naval Propaganda is a highly original work which makes a significant contribution. Occupying a nexus between naval history, maritime history, cultural, and literary studies, it deserves to be read by scholars in all those fields. At the heart of Ronald's study is an understanding of the previously undisclosed history of the Naval Chronicle (1799-1818). Although this periodical has long been a central primary source in naval and maritime history, Ronald reveals here, for the first time, its full literary history and ideological significance. Timothy Jenks, Associate Professor of History, East Carolina University, USA D.A.B. Ronald's study of British propaganda between the 1745 Rebellion and the Napoleonic Wars hinges on a crisis during the late 1790s. With a war going badly, anti-war sentiment at home, and naval mutinies, an inspirational new ideology was needed, and 'modern patriotism' finally emerged, buttressed by the powerful symbolic figure of the 'young hero'. The study shows how in various literary genres this figure slowly crystallized during the second half of the eighteenth century, pitching merit against established interests, and flourished around the time of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Ronald has unearthed a mass of material from the press, and particularly from the Naval Chronicle (1799-1818). He provides a fascinating example of a propaganda campaign harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of youth, and insights into the formation of a British political identity during this period. -Colin Heywood, Emeritus Professor of Modern French History, University of Nottingham, UK