Seven Ships Maritime History launches. Floated on a dream.
Seven Ships Maritime History Series –
a Note from the author
In the summer of 2006, about five years before the Syrian Civil War began,
I spent a couple of weeks in Damascus. In theory I was doing some informal
research about Lawrence of Arabia, but in reality I mostly wandered the streets
and gazed at the buildings and was touched by the exquisite good manners of
the local people. In the afternoons, when the heat became oppressive for a pale
European, I went into the Umayyad Mosque – infidels are quite welcome there
– and squatted next to one of the pillars, and read the book I had brought with
me: a hardback edition of Livingstone Lowes’ The Road to Xanadu, which is a
wonderful exploration of all the travel narratives that fed the imagination of the
young Coleridge. It was delicious to escape from the uncomfortable warmth of
a Damascene summer and daydream about the snow and the icebergs and the
dark, chill waters that the ancient mariners had met when they ventured to the
The extracts from old diaries and letters and memoirs cited in this study
re-awoke in me that sense of wonder which the best sailors’ tales have always
inspired, especially in children. When I put the book down to daydream, I
began to think of how fascinating it would be for me to find out more about
maritime history, and to tell the stories of the greatest British ships over the
centuries of the Western maritime expansion. It was not hard to choose seven
famous vessels for seven books, each of which would have its own major
themes: Golden Hind (exploration, plunder), Mayflower (religion, emigration),
Endeavour (science, colonialism), Bounty (rebellion, survival), Victory (war,
heroism), Beagle (biology, genius) and Endurance (leadership, heroism, survival).
Each volume would be self-contained, but would also mark a chapter in the rise
and decline of British maritime power and the creation of the modern world.
The idea came to me whole, in a single dreamy afternoon, and I knew it was
what I wanted to do next. Now all I had to do was write my tales: the stories
of Seven Ships.
Kevin Jackson, 2020