This image is the cover for the book Children at Sea

Children at Sea

The author of Children of the Raj and Prep School Children examines the historical lives of eight children who grew up out on the oceans.

Children at sea faced even more drastic separations from loved ones than those sent “home” from India or those packed off to English boarding schools at the age of seven, the subjects of Vyvyen Brendon’s previous books. Captured slaves, child migrants and transported convicts faced an ocean passage leading nearly always to lifelong exile in distant lands. Boys apprenticed as merchant seamen, or enlisted as powder monkeys, or signed on as midshipmen, usually progressed to a nautical career fraught with danger and broken only by fleeting periods of home leave. “Solitary among numbers,” as Admiral Collingwood described himself, they could be not just physically at risk but psychologically adrift—at sea in more ways than one.

Rather than abandoning sea borne children as they approached adulthood, therefore, Vyvyen follows whole lives shaped by the waves. She focusses on eight central characters: a slave captured in Africa, a convict girl transported to Australia, a Barnardo’s lass sent as a migrant to Canada, a foundling brought up in Coram’s Hospital who ran away to sea, and four youths from contrasting backgrounds dispatched to serve as midshipmen. Their social origins as well as their maritime ventures are revealed through a rich variety of original source material discovered in scattered archives.

These brine-encrusted lives are resurrected both for their intrinsic interest and because they speak for thousands of children, cast off alone to face storms and calms, excitement and monotony, fellowship and loneliness, kindness and abuse, seasickness and ozone breezes, loss and hope. This book recounts stories that might otherwise have sunk without trace like so much juvenile flotsam. They are sometimes inspiring, sometimes heart-rending and always compelling. Children at Sea embarks on a fresh voyage and explores a world of new experience.

Vyvyen Brendon

Vyvyen Brendon read History at St Anne's College, Oxford. After a career in teaching she retired as Head of History at St Mary's School, Cambridge, to take up full-time research and writing. With the successful publications of _Children of the Raj_ and _Prep School Children_, Vyvyen has become an acknowledged expert on the subject of youngsters past and present. _Children at Sea_ is her third book. She keeps in touch with the rising generation through her work as chair of the trustees of a nursery school and through her five grandchildren.

Pen and Sword History