Greenhill Books: Napoleonic Library


By Carola Oman

New introduction by Stephen Howarth

Nelson cover


Carola Oman's classic work sets the standard against which all biographies of Nelson can be judged. The first accounts of the life of Britain's most famous admiral contained many inaccuracies and flaws which were repeated in the work of later writers. Carola Oman, however, "had more and better material than anyone who went before her; and she used it so brilliantly that everyone who came after her was bound to be influenced by her work," as Stephen Howarth writes in his introduction to this new edition.

Carola Oman had access not only to all of the 19th-century and early 20th-century accounts of Nelson's life and battles, but also to primary sources (including Nelson's letters in autograph) which either had never been published or had suffered from unscrupulous editing. With these resources she was able to check, correct and develop much of what had previously appeared in print, discarding the myths that had gained credence through repetition. This new edition of Nelson contains her original source notes in full.

The work of an experienced and skillful author, Nelson is both factually sound and very readable. This is essential reading for anyone who wants to know about the great naval commander's life.


  • Full account of Nelson's life and battles
  • Based on primary sources, including Nelson's letters
  • Essential reading for an understanding of the man and his times


"...[Carola Oman] is.. the greatest of the Nelson biographers...the entire canon of Nelson historiography is now considered to be pre-Oman or post-Oman...Oman's Nelson appears 50 years after its first publication in 1947 and in the centenary year of Carola's birth, making it doubly welcome to Nelson scholars and naval historians." - Focus, Ministry of Defence

"...Is still regarded by many as the standard biography...has the great advantage of being very well written, making it easier for the reader to absorb with interest the immense detail contained in it...There have been other biographies on different aspects of the national hero's story, but it is to Carola Oman's credit that here is still the yardstick by which they should all be measured." - Maritime News

"...Fifty years have elapsed since Carola Oman's Nelson was first published. Since that time there have been several excellent lives of the Admiral yet most of their authors would admit - and, indeed, have said so - that Oman's book is still the Nelson biography Par Excellence...Another bonus comes in the introduction by Stephen Howarth who reviews the development of Nelson biography through the years...The book is well produced and even the lucky owners of original editions might find this version a worthy working copy while protecting the other." - The Nelson Despatch, The Journal of the Nelson Society

"...The standard biography...very well written...There have been other biographies of Nelson since, with varying emphases on different aspects of the national hero's story, but it is to Carola Oman's credit that her's is still the yardstick by which they should all be measured." - Warship World


Carola Oman was the author of biographies, novels and poetry. Her father was the historian Sir Charles Oman.

Stephen Howarth, who has written a new introduction for this edition, is the author of several books on naval, maritime and general history, including Nelson: The Immortal Memory (co-written with his father, the historian David Howarth).

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