Nelson and Women: Marketing, Representations and the Female Consumer

  • Kate Williams

Abstract

During the Napoleonic Wars, Nelson was presented in a manner that appealed to a female audience. His image was pervasively sentimentalised in consumer goods marketed to a female purse, and women writers presented him in various ways that correspond to the domestic, amorous, and political desires of their audience. Such extravagantly sexualised and romanticised representations of Nelson were ubiquitous at the time but have since been overlooked by modern scholarship. This chapter proposes that such neglect is undeserved. Women’s portrayals of Nelson are not inconsequential, nor the unmediated results of pro-war government propaganda, but vital interventions into the public representation of the hero and important revelations about their opinions towards the Napoleonic Wars. Largely deprived of official representation and a political voice, women wrote novels that exploited patriotic sentiment and sexual feeling about Nelson, expressed dissent and appreciation, offered fantasies about how sailors should behave, and tested new theories about Nelson, heroism, and the role of sailors in the wider culture.

Keywords

Europe Income Tria Dine Alla 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    See Colin White, The Nelson Encyclopaedia (London: Chatham, 2002), pp. 176–8;Google Scholar
  2. Flora Fraser, ‘If You Seek His Monument’, in The Nelson Companion, ed. Colin White (Stroud: Sutton, 1995), pp. 129–51.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837 (1992; repr. London: Vintage, 1996), p. 268.Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    Margarette Lincoln, Representing the Royal Navy: British Sea Power, 1750–1815 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2002), pp. 137–60.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Colley, Britons, particularly pp. 251–96; Kathleen Wilson, ‘Empire of Virtue: The Imperial Project and Hanoverian Culture c. 1720–1785’, in An Imperial State at War: Britain from 1689 to 1815, ed. Lawrence Stone (London: Routledge, 1994), pp. 128–64,Google Scholar
  6. and Wilson, The Island Race: Englishness, Empire and Gender in the Eighteenth Century (London: Routledge, 2003), p. 105.Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Grazer Zeitung, 18 August 1800. Cited in Thomas Bliimel, Nelson’s Overland Return in 1800 (Slinfold: The Nelson Society, 2000), pp. 8–9.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    Lady Elizabeth Foster, journal entry, 12 November 1800, cited in Dorothy Stuart, Dearest Bess (London: Metheun, 1955), p. 88.Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Carola Oman, Nelson (1947; repr. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1950), p. 270.Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Rina Prentice, A Celebration of the Sea: The Decorative Art Collections of the National Maritime Museum (London: HMSO, 1994), p. 33.Google Scholar
  11. 10.
    Park Honan, Jane Austen: Her Life (1987; repr. London: Phoenix, 1997), p. 162.Google Scholar
  12. 11.
    Cited in Hugh Tours, The Life and Letters of Emma Hamilton (London: Gollancz, 1963), p. 121.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    Lionel Cust (ed.), Catalogue of the Collections of Fans and Fan-Leaves Presented to the Trustees of the British Museum by the Lady Charlotte Schreiber (London: Longmans, 1893), p. 4; see Prentice, Celebration of the Sea, p. 32.Google Scholar
  14. 13.
    R.K. Henrywood, Relief-Moulded Jugs, 1820 (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1984), p. 199.Google Scholar
  15. For a reproduction of this jug, see Desmond Eyles, Royal Doulton Character and Toby Jugs (Kent: Westerham Press, 1979), p. 29.Google Scholar
  16. 20.
    See Shirley Bury, Jewellery: 1789–1910, 2 vols (Woodbridge: Antique Collectors’ Club, 1991), vol. I, pp. 174–5.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    See Prentice, A Celebration of the Sea, p. 33; Ann Louise Luthi, Sentimental Jewellery (Princes Risborough: Shire Publications, 1998), p. 9.Google Scholar
  18. 23.
    See Tom Malcomson, ‘Commemoration Meant Commerce for Some, Advertisements from The Times after the Death of Nelson’, The Nelson Dispatch, 6, part 9 (1999), 386–90 (p. 387).Google Scholar
  19. 24.
    Amanda Vickery, The Gentleman’s Daughter: Women’s Lives in Georgian England (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), particularly pp. 187–93 (p. 193).Google Scholar
  20. On shopping and social identity, see Grant MacCracken, Culture and Consumption: New Approaches to the Symbolic Character of Consumer Goods and Activities (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. 19;Google Scholar
  21. on ‘social emulation’, see The Birth of a Consumer Society: The Commercialisation of Eighteenth-Century England, ed. John McKendrick, John Brewer, and J.H. Plumb (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), p. 11.Google Scholar
  22. 25.
    On how the period saw two key debates, to define the meaning of consumerism and come to an acceptable ideological construction of the female subject, see Elizabeth Kowaleski-Wallace, Consuming Subjects: Women, Shopping, and Business in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), p. 5.Google Scholar
  23. 26.
    On the ‘discriminatory’ policies of the wartime state, see Nicholas Rogers, Crowds, Culture, and Politics in Georgian Britain (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998), pp. 114–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 34.
    Anna Maria Porter, A Sailor’s Friendship and a Soldier’s Love, 2 vols (London, 1805), vol. I, pp. 199, 200, 2–3, 89, 144.Google Scholar
  25. 35.
    Colin White, The Nelson Encyclopaedia (London: Chatham, 2002), p. 56.Google Scholar
  26. 38.
    Eliza Parsons, The Convict; or, The Navy Lieutenant (London, 1806), 4 vols, vol. I, pp. 13, 11.Google Scholar
  27. 39.
    Colin White, ‘Nelson and Shakespeare’, in The Nelson Dispatch, 7, part 3 (2000), 145–50 (p. 150).Google Scholar
  28. 41.
    John Isbell, ‘Introduction’, to Corinne; or, Italy, ed. Sylvia Raphael (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. vii.Google Scholar
  29. 42.
    Madame de Staäl, Corinna; or, Italy, translator unknown, 3 vols (London, 1807), vol. I, pp. 58–9, 320, 54–7, 298, 3, 9.Google Scholar
  30. 44.
    N.A.M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Harper Collins, 1986), p. 79.Google Scholar
  31. 46.
    John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Essex: Longman, 1998), pp. 455–6.Google Scholar
  32. 47.
    Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983), pp. 50–79.Google Scholar
  33. 48.
    See J.H. Hubback and Edith C. Hubback, Jane Austen’s Sailor Brothers (Stroud: Hodgkins, 1986), pp. 61–7.Google Scholar
  34. 49.
    On Austen’s representation of the Navy, see Brian Southam, Jane Austen and the Navy (London: Hambledon, 2000).Google Scholar
  35. 50.
    Jane Austen to Cassandra Austen, 11–12 October 1813, in The Letters of Jane Austen, ed. Deidre Le Faye (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), p. 235.Google Scholar
  36. 52.
    Austen, Northanger Abbey, ed. Anne Ehrenpreis (1972; repr. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985), p. 123.Google Scholar
  37. 53.
    Austen, Persuasion, ed. Gillian Beer (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1998), p. 87.Google Scholar
  38. 54.
    Austen, Mansfield Park, ed. Kathryn Sutherland (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1996), p. 51.Google Scholar
  39. 55.
    Austen, Sanditon, ed. Margaret Drabble (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), p. 169.Google Scholar
  40. 57.
    William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair, ed. John Carey (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2001), pp. 325, 119–20, 598, 183, 642.Google Scholar
  41. 59.
    Wilkie Collins, No Name, ed. Mark Ford (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1994), p. 516.Google Scholar
  42. 60.
    See Andrew Lambert, Nelson: Britannia’s God of War (London: Faber, 2004), p. 353.Google Scholar
  43. 61.
    Barbara Taylor Bradford, A Woman of Substance (London: Granada, 1979), pp. 78, 400–1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kate Williams 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate Williams

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations