Tuesday 11 May: Jack Tar’s Own Story

The common seaman was crucial in Britain’s rise to prosperity and expansion up to the Industrial Revolution. From crossing the globe in voyages of exploration to trading with India and China, and taking part in the naval battles that established command of the oceans, Jack Tar held the nation’s destiny in his calloused hands. Despite being witness to major historical events, Jack’s own story was largely untold.

Come along to hear Stephen Taylor tell that story as he challenges the assumption that sailors, as commoners of their time, must have have been illiterate. His talk is based on his book, Sons of the Waves, in which sailors’ memoirs and letters as well as archival records are used to tell the story. It is that of proud and spirited men, learned in their own fashion, who had robust opinions and the courage to challenge overweening authority.

In his talk the author will not only give us a picture of Jack’s role in our maritime past but also explain how he used documents at The National Archives to help him confirm the veracity of seafaring tales, some of which appeared on initial reading to be absurdly far-fetched.

Stephen Taylor is a former journalist, foreign correspondent and the author of eight books, of history, biography and travel.

The event is free to members but guests are welcome to attend for £5 (+ booking fee) per head. The £5 ticket price will be refundable against the cost of membership. Please log in as a member to see the booking link on ‘The Talks Programme’ page.