Bernard Cornwell, the Olympia and the Fighting Temeraire

Date Posted: 01/09/2012

It is not long now until the paperback of the Glorious First of June – the final installment of my Hearts of Oak Trilogy – reaches the shops and so there is no better time to go back and think about the book that began it all, The Fighting Temeraire.

When Bernard Cornwell reviewed it in the Wall Street Journal he did so by focusing on the fate of the USS Olympia, the oldest remaining steel warship in the world. She’s a magnificent ship but is in shocking condition. During my recent trip to America everyone I spoke to who was connected with historic ships soon came round to the question of the Olympia and her future.

Turner painted The Fighting Temeraire as a lament to the Age of Sail, and as a memorial to lost warships. It seems that we still have not learnt the lesson. We MUST save Olympia: she is unique.

You can read the Cornwell review here.