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A Naval Life: The Edited Diaries and Papers of Admiral John Locke Marx, 1852 - 1939

Edited by Mary Jones

"Mary Jones has brought to light a vivid and revealing private view of the inner life of the Victorian Royal Navy as it definitely did not wish to be seen."
Professor N A M Rodger

A Naval Life is the dramatic human story of John Locke Marx, who as a young officer grew up in the heyday of the Old Navy, with its gunboats, naval brigades and autonomous captains ruling distant seas. We see his rise as a mature officer in the New Navy, with its armed cruisers and battleships, its great Atlantic Fleet, and its professional Officer Corps. We learn how, as a retired admiral in the First World War, he took on a combat role as Captain in the dangeroud Q ships, then was as active admiral in charge of convoys when that war ended.

In her meticulously shaped account, Mary Jones, re-creates in Locke the heroism and passion, the blind spots, weaknesses and vulnerabilities that truly invest him with life on the page. We feel we know him intimately as we follow a career spanning the salient moments in the development of the Royal Navy, from 1866 to 1917, from the Pax Britannica to Jutland.

At his death Admiral Marx left an archive of diaries, letters and papers. It is ironic, perhaps, that every page of his journal is headed 'private' (not least for the candid accounts of his sexual encounters). For here in the records bequeathed us is a chronicle important not only in historical terms. It affords us a profound social insight into Marx's era, and shows us what an impact naval life had on a man of Marx's distinctive personality.

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Read extracts from the book:

Marx at Britannia
Commander Marx
WW1 - Marx as Q ship captain

About the author

Mary Jones is a historian whose chief interest is in the Victorian and Edwardian Navy. She has an MA from Exeter University centring on the Victorian Australia Station, and a Doctorate from Exeter centring on the Victorian and Edwardian Naval Officer Corps. She has written about Captain Francis Clayton on the Australian Station, 1884-1888 for the Navy Records Society and Admiral Sir William May for the Mariner's Mirror. She has given papers at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich and King's College in London. She has written on various aspects of local history.

She came to naval history somewhat late, as a retired teacher, and admits to having trouble with the hardware, but insists that it is the software of the personnel that is responsible for the quality of the service.

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