‘A Victory and a Defeat as Glorious as a Victory’: The Battles of the Coronel and Falkland Islands (Walter Summers, 1927)

  • Amy Sargeant


At Christies Maritime Sale two years ago, lots 19 to 50 were devoted to Nelson. Setting the pace for the bidding for the Bicentenary of Trafalgar in 2005, a lock of Horatio’s hair was pitched at £2000–3000, a lock of Emma Hamilton’s hair at £300–500.1 Other souvenirs of the hero included enamels, mourning rings, china and glass. This represents the merest tip of an iceberg of memorabilia produced in the wake of his death and for the centenary in 1905 (including a film made by Cecil Hepworth). The lives of heroes were then the stuff of children’s education, both east of Mansion House (as attested by Thomas Burke) and, further up the riverbank, in Kenneth Grahame’s Dream Days (where Selina rhapsodizes over Trafalgar Day — she ‘had taken spiritual part in every notable engagement of the British Navy’).2


Steam Turbine Falkland Island Flag Signal World Crisis British Ship 
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    See Thomas Burke, Son of London (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1946); Kenneth Grahame, ‘Dream Days’ [1898] in The Penguin Kenneth Grahame (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1983), pp. 94 and 96; also Arthur Conan Doyle’s costume novel Rodney Stone [1896] (London: John Murray, 1948), pp. 231–42.Google Scholar
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    See Admiral Viscount Jellicoe, The Grand Fleet 1914–16 [1919] (London: Cassell, 1922), pp. 334 and 413; for further discussion of Nelson see Amy Sargeant, ‘Do We Need Another Hero?’ in Claire Monk and Amy Sargeant (eds), British Historical Cinema (London: Routledge, 2002), pp. 15–30.Google Scholar
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    Winifred Ellerman (Bryher), ‘The War from Three Angles’ and ‘The War from More Angles’, Close Up, July 1927, 16–22, and October 1927, 44–8. Nevertheless, she praised the film (rare in the journal’s coverage of British cinema) for holding her attention. 9. Cradock’s opposition was reported as far afield as France: see Cinémagazine, 19 November 1926; for Winston Churchill’s account, see The World Crisis 1911–14 (London: Thornton Butterworth, 1923), pp. 407–38. Churchill was initially invited to appear in the 1927 film but declined.Google Scholar
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© Amy Sargeant 2011

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  • Amy Sargeant

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