The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 3

had gained much ground since the 1980s and, at the National Maritime Museum, I was well placed to consider how eighteenth-century women had used material culture to celebrate naval heroes, display patriotism and, at the same time, develop a social voice. This approach was extended when, in 2005, the Museum celebrated the bicentenary of Trafalgar in its exhibition Nelson & Napoléon. In both the exhibition and the accompanying catalogue, curators traced women’s reactions to Nelson’s victories and explored the impact on women of prolonged warfare. Of course, Nelson’s relationship with his wife, Frances, and his mistress, Emma Hamilton, gave the show added piquancy. By now, the study of women and the sea was no longer confined to the comparatively few women who actually went to sea. In 2004, Nicholas Rodger in his The Command of the Ocean. A Naval History of Britain, 1649–1815, made the point that knowledge of the social history of the navy would never be complete until more research was undertaken into the wives and mothers who stayed at home. The publication of this volume coincided with a chance find I made in the Museum’s archives of a cache of eighteenth-century letters to seamen’s wives. These had been well catalogued but little studied. Few letters from wives to husbands have survived: men generally burnt them before battle to prevent personal or even political exchanges from falling into the wrong hands. But from this one-sided correspondence, something of the lives of naval women could be reconstructed and my study Naval Wives and Mistresses (2007) ensued. Ellen Gill extended this study in her well-researched Naval Families, War and Duty in Britain, 1740–1820 (2016). While Gill considers individual lives in the context of eighteenth-century warfare, she also explores contemporary concepts of masculinity and duty, placing an emphasis on fatherhood to balance the study of naval women. In another aspect of the study of women on land, Helen Doe explores maritime businesswomen in her book Enterprising Women and Shipping in the Nineteenth Century (2009). Anne Massey has looked at the few female designers commissioned in the 1920s and ’30s to work on the interior design of P&O and Cunard liners, and Melanie Holihead has investigated a community of women in mid-nineteenth century Portsea whose lives were connected to naval seamen (both in Journal for Maritime Research 18: 2016). The importance of the sea to the history of Britain ensures that discrete studies of this nature readily contribute to a larger national story. Research on women and the sea has fed into scholarly interest in maritime femininities and masculinities, revealing assumptions about femininity and relational models of gender during Britain’s wars of the eighteenth century. This was an underlying theme of the National Maritime Museum’s 2016 exhibition about Emma Hamilton, explored further in the splendid catalogue edited by THE TRAFALGAR CHRONICLE 10