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The Plimsoll Sensation

Mountbatten Maritime Award, 2006

Paperback / ISBN-13: 9780349117201

Price: £12.99

ON SALE: 8th February 2024

Genre: Humanities / History

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The story of a Victorian philanthropist who reformed shipping laws, saved thousands of sailors’ lives and became a national hero

‘A story of ambition, treachery, libel, political intrigue and cold-blooded murder on a mass scale’ Herald

‘Nicolette Jones charts Plimsoll’s course with skill, insight and elegance’ Sunday Telegraph

‘Splendid and meticulously researched’ Guardian

In the second half of the nineteenth century, an astonishing campaign stirred a nation to save the lives of the hundreds of British sailors who were drowning unnecessarily every year. Overladen and ill-repaired ships set sail, their doomed crews sacrificed while mercenary shipowners profited from the insurance. Samuel Plimsoll blew the whistle on these scandalous practices, devoting his life to a campaign for maritime reform. Plimsoll caught the public imagination: under his banner working men and women stood side by side with enlightened aristocrats and industrialists, their clamour almost toppling a prime minister.


Excellent... Nicolette Jones charts Plimsoll's course with skill, insight and elegance
Sunday Telegraph
A fascinating piece of social history
Sunday Herald
Excellently researched... a welcome reappraisal of one of Britain's long-forgotten heroes
Camden New Journal
Jones clearly loves her subject... Her set-pieces mix sensitively and narrative gusto. Dickens would have delighted in this story
Jonathan Keates
Jones's strength lies in bringing to life the sailor's friend and the political climate in which he battled
The Economist
Splendid and meticulously researched
Jones is sure-footed, never allowing her empathy with her subject to blind her to his failings. Her comprehensive biography... will be the first port of call for all future researchers
Sunday Times
A story of ambition, treachery, libel, political intrigue and cold-blooded murder on a mass scale... told in an engaging, witty, racy style
An excellent, circumstantial biography that alerts us to how much still remains to be done in the cause of safety at sea
The Times
Jones's account is entirely worthy of its deserving subject... rehabilitates a man who remains a household name, but whose legion achievements have been forgotten
A fine piece of work - fluently written, full of interesting things
Expertly tracked