The Sea Is My Element

The eventful life of Admiral Sir Pulteney Malcolm, 1766-1838

Paul Martinovich

The life of an important but little-known naval officer seenthrough his personal letters,and exploring the naval and social history of the late Georgian era.
Publication date:
July 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Reason to Revolution
Illustration :
20 colour ills, 24 b/w ills, 6 maps, 1 chart
Format Available     Quantity Price
ISBN : 9781913336578

Dimensions : 234 X 156 mm
Not Yet Published. Available for PreOrder.


• This is the first biography of Pulteney Malcolm
• The work is based on hundreds of vivid and insightful letters to his wife and sisters
• Malcolm was unique in his friendships with great men and his involvement in great events
• The story combines naval and social history, offering a broad view of life in late Georgian times

The life of Pulteney Malcolm, a Royal Navy officer active during and after the Napoleonic Wars, is now all but forgotten, except perhaps for his role in guarding Napoleon on St Helena. However in his time he was famous, celebrated for his daring and seamanship. For six years Malcolm commanded the ship of the line Donegal,fighting in the Battle of San Domingo and blockading French warships in their ports. He was involved in the aftermath of Trafalgar and the events surrounding Waterloo, and came to know many of the great men of his time, including Nelson, Wellington and Napoleon. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he spent his entireactive career afloat, justifying his proud claim that the sea was his element. His achievements in over 40 years of war and peace were all the greater, given his modest origins in the Scottish Borders.

This biography is based in large part on Malcolm's personal letters to members of his family, particularly to his wife Clementina. The several hundred letters reveal a man who was at once a humane commander, a brilliant seaman, a convivial friend, and a loving husband. While the book offers a portrait of a man devoted to his service, the letters range over far more than naval activity, illuminating an eventful life in a turbulent age.Thus Malcolm's story demonstratesnot only the growing professionalism of the Royal Navy, but also the social and economic pressures changing British society.