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The Napoleon Series > Book Reviews > Biographies

Wellington Studies II

Edited by C. M. Woolgar

Wellington Studies II. Edited by C. M. Woolgar. Southampton, UK: Hartley Institute, University of Southampton, 1999. 220 p. Paperback. ISBN# 0854326979

I've just received a copy of Wellington Studies II edited by C.M. Woolgar and published by the Hartley Institute, University of Southampton (which houses the vast collection of the Wellington Manuscripts). This volume contains a selection of papers given at a large conference on Wellington's life and career held at the University of Southampton in 1998, and for those (like me) who couldn't manage to get there, it is the next best thing. There are eleven essays in the volume covering different aspects of Wellington's career up to 1815. Another volume will cover the post Waterloo years.

It opens with a marvelous essay by Dr Woolgar on Wellington's methods in writing his despatches - particularly those describing battle - and the factors which influenced him. Other essays (I've only had time to read a few) include Jeremy Black on Wellington's place in military history; two on Wellington in India by W.A.C. Halliwell and Anthony Bennell; one on Wellington as Chief Secretary of Ireland, by Karen Robson; one on the decision to bombard Copenhagen rather than attack it in some other way by T. Munch-Petersen; then four on the Peninsular War: C. Willis on Portuguese discontent with the British alliance; A. Gil Novales and Charles Esdaile on different aspects of the Anglo-Spanish alliance; and B. De Toy on Wellington and Admiral Berkeley. Finally there is an essay by Norman Gash on Wellington and Waterloo that includes an interesting appendix discussing the uncertain evidence whether or not Wellington personally chose the allied position at Waterloo.

The volume has 252 pages, is a nicely produced paperback with four maps, one illustration and an index. The tone of the essays I have read is rather academic, and certainly not inclined to hero worship.

Wellington Studies II can be obtained direct from the Hartley Institute, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, Great Britain. The price is £7.50 plus £1 per vol. in the UK, £1.50 outside the UK. The postage and handling charge for multiple orders is £3.50 for four or more books. You can pay direct by sterling cheque, or they take VISA or MASTERCARD. E-mail enquiries to

Reviewed by Rory Muir