Nelson and Women: Marketing, Representations and the Female Consumer

  • Kate Williams


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.


Antique Collector Woman Writer Corporal Ability Patriotic Sentiment Female Consumer 
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© Kate Williams 2005

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  • Kate Williams

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