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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 01:38 GMT 02:38 UK
Nelson sympathised with mutineers
Lord Nelson
Lord Nelson's letters can be seen by the public next year
A new light has been shed on the life and character of Lord Nelson, with the uncovering of more than a thousand unpublished letters.

Research suggests they were hidden from the public by Victorian scholars, so as to create a one-dimensional view of Britain's most famous admiral.

On one occasion, in 1797, he sympathises with mutinous sailors.

Some of the letters will be exhibited next year at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south-east London.

The Nelson and Napoleon exhibition will mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, and starts in July 2005.

Under Nelson's legendary leadership, from 1794 to 1805, the British Navy proved its supremacy over the French by inflicting defeat after defeat.

Nelson 'the man'

This culminated on 21 October, 1805, at Cape Trafalgar, where Britain was saved from threat of invasion by Napoleon, and Nelson was killed when he was struck by a French sniper's bullet.

Dr Colin White, from the National Maritime Museum, travelled more than 25,000 miles to libraries in California, Denmark and Germany, to find the new material.

"When I started this project, I expected to find a few hundred new letters. But there has been an avalanche of new material. I have found new treasures.

It is that sort of personal touch that we love to know about nowadays
Dr Colin White, National Maritime Museum

"Nelson wrote as he spoke. The letters directly reflect his character and give a strong sense of 'the man'," he said.

The admiral described the actions of mutinous sailors against some bad officers, as "the most manly thing I have ever heard of" and said it "does the British sailor infinite honour".

Dr White, who will publish two books based on his research next year, said: "When the Victorians put Nelson's letters together there were some letters that they just felt were inappropriate."

In one light-hearted letter, he addresses his 12-year-old nephew as 'Mr Nelson' and orders him to make a visit the next day.

"It would have been thought a bit ephemeral but it is that sort of personal touch that we love to know about nowadays," Dr White said.

Nelson scroll found 50 years on
06 May 04 |  South West Wales


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