Trafalgar. The men, the battle, the storm.

By Tim Clayton & Phil Craig

Printed: 2004

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton. London

Edition: First edition

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 5 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 5

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Item information


In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with red gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

Two hundred years ago, Napoleon Bonaparte dominated Europe and threatened Britain with invasion. Against him stood the Royal Navy and the already legendary Admiral Horatio Nelson. On 21 October 1805, a massive naval battle off the coast of Spain decided mastery of the seas. Then, over the following days and nights, the battleships and their exhausted crews endured a gale of awesome fury. As Captain Charles Tyler wrote to his wife Margaret, ‘the wind blew a perfect storm’. The authors of the bestselling FINEST HOUR tell this story not only through the diaries, letters and memoirs of the men who wrestled with the enemy and the elements, but also through the eyes of their wives and children. Whether you are already familiar with this period of history or are coming to it for the first time, TRAFALGAR is a book that will enthral as it illuminates an event whose repercussions still echo today.

Review: This is the second time I have read this book, I lost my old copy years ago. Best book on the battle i have ever read. Good details about what it was like for an ordinary seaman to be on these ships at this time and as an ex navy man could imagine the hardship.


The Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 by Clarkson Frederick Stanfield

The Battle of Trafalgar was a naval engagement that took place on 21 October 1805 between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French and Spanish Navies during the War of the Third Coalition (August–December 1805) of the Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815).

As part of Napoleon’s plans to invade the United Kingdom, the French and Spanish fleets combined to take control of the English Channel and provide the Grande Armée safe passage. The allied fleet, under the command of the French admiral, Pierre-Charles Villeneuve, sailed from the port of Cádiz in the south of Spain on 18 October 1805. They encountered the British fleet under Lord Nelson, recently assembled to meet this threat, in the Atlantic Ocean along the southwest coast of Spain, off Cape Trafalgar.

Nelson was outnumbered, with 27 British ships of the line to 33 allied ships including the largest warship in either fleet, the Spanish Santísima Trinidad. To address this imbalance, Nelson sailed his fleet directly at the allied battle line’s flank, hoping to break the line into pieces. Villeneuve had worried that Nelson might attempt this tactic but, for various reasons, had made no plans for this eventuality. The plan worked almost perfectly; Nelson’s columns split the Franco-Spanish fleet in three, isolating the rear half from Villeneuve’s flag aboard Bucentaure. The allied vanguard sailed off while it attempted to turn around, giving the British temporary superiority over the remainder of their fleet. In the ensuing fierce battle 22 allied ships were lost, while the British lost none.

The tactic exposed the leading ships in the British lines to intense fire from multiple ships as they approached the Franco-Spanish lines. Nelson’s own HMS Victory led the front column and was almost knocked out of action. Nelson was shot by a French musketeer during the battle, and died shortly before it ended. Villeneuve was captured along with his flagship Bucentaure. He attended Nelson’s funeral while a captive on parole in Britain. The senior Spanish fleet officer, Admiral Federico Gravina, escaped with the remnant of the Franco-Spanish fleet (a third of the original number of ships); he died of wounds sustained during the battle five months later.

The victory confirmed the naval supremacy Britain had established during the course of the eighteenth century, and was achieved in part through Nelson’s departure from prevailing naval tactical orthodoxy.


Tim Clayton was educated at Norwich School and Saint Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he read English. After some years working for the print collector Christopher Lennox-Boyd, during which time he compiled George Stubbs: the Complete Engraved Works (1989), he won a research fellowship at Worcester College, Oxford, where he wrote The English Print 1688-1802 (1997) and catalogued the print collection of George Clarke (1661-1736). With his friend Phil Craig he then worked on the television series and book Finest Hour (1999), Diana: Story of a Princess, and the critically acclaimed Trafalgar: the Men, the Battle, the Storm (2004). His next book Tars was the winner of the 2008 Mountbatten Literary Award.

Tim is a specialist in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century history and culture, being one the leading experts in the world on the printed images of that period and on their historical background and significance. He was co-curator of the exhibition Bonaparte and the British which was on show at the British Museum in 2015 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and author, with Sheila O’Connell, of the accompanying catalogue. He was an associate editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and has contributed to the Cambridge History of the Book, the Chicago History of the Map and the Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars as the author of the chapter on the Waterloo Campaign.

He is an Honorary Research Fellow of the British Museum, an Associate Fellow of the University of East Anglia, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is an experienced lecturer and has contributed to a variety of radio and television programmes and is prepared to act as a consultant to print collectors, auctioneers or dealers and to advise on print cataloguing.

His latest book James Gillray: A Revolution in Satire was published by the Paul Mellon Centre on 8 November 2022. It describes the career of the greatest of visual satirists, James Gillray, who cast a sardonic eye on the ironies of the age of revolution, producing prints that remain hilarious to this day.

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