THE CLASSIC MEMOIR OF A SAILOR WHO BLEW-THE-WHISTLE ON THE ROYAL NAVY

In 1805 William Wells Robinson joined the Royal Navy.  He saw action in numerous campaigns of the Napoleonic Wars, including the Battle of Trafalgar. After six years of service, Robinson deserted - a hanging offence in a time of war. For the next two decades he kept his head low, but in 1836 Robinson published a powerful memoir of his service in the Royal Navy - the first by a common sailor.   Robinson’s book confronted the draconian disciplinary system and the use of impressment - the capturing and forcing of men into naval service. Predicting a less than favorable response from the Royal Navy, Robinson chose to publish the book under a pseudonym, that of ‘Jack Nasty-Face.’ The British press praised the book for its ‘plain narrative of facts - facts of an amusing and of a heartrending nature,’ and called for parliament to investigate ‘the copious injustices and cruelties’ meted out by Royal Naval officers. The Navy considered the book treasonous. When the printer was arrested, Robinson and his family departed Britain for Australia. William Robinson’s astonishing tale has long been considered a classic by historians. This new edition, restored and introduced by his descendant, filmmaker and author Peter Butt, features reviews of the book soon after its release as well as details of Robinson’s intriguing life.  

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JACK NASTY-FACE

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