MORRIS, Ronald. The Captain's Lady. London, Chatto & Windus, .
8vo. Original boards with illustrated dust-wrappers (not price-clipped); pp. 178, plates after photographs; apart from previous bookdealers pencil annotation to endpapers; a very good copy.
First edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author and with tipped in card by him, accompanying the book. 'In 1945, the 15-year-old Ronald Morris joined the Mercury, a training ship for boys under the command of C.B. Fry, the famous cricketer. But Fry's rule was only notional; in reality it was run, with a rod of iron, by his wife, then in her eighties. Many suffered miserably; at least one boy died. Yet the story of how she came to rule the ship is perhaps even more extraordinary. Beatie was a stunning beauty, at the age of fourteen catching the eye of Charles Hoare - a married man, and heir to a banking fortune. The ensuing affair provoked a scandal and the couple removed themselves to the Isle of Wight where Hoare bought the barque Illovo, re-named it Mercury and converted it to a training ship for boys. Initially run on progressive lines, the ship's rule became harsh when Hoare died and Beatie, now married to C.B. Fry, took control. In 1914 Winston Churchill, First Sea Lord, sent the hulk of HMS Gannet to replace the former Illovo, now based on the River Hamble. Despite the extreme treatment of the boys, the RN seized on the survivors knowing they were disciplined to the nth degree, and they often rose swiftly through the ranks. In Easter 2004, HMS Gannet, fully restored, was opened as an exhibit at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham' (advertisement for a new edition).