Sea Breezes Shop Header



Lives Shaped by the Waves

by Vyvyen Brendon

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. 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. This book recounts stories never before told, stories that might otherwise have sunk without trace like so much juvenile flotsam. They are sometimes inspiring, sometimes heart-rending and always compelling. Highly recommended.

Number of copies

Book Author

Vyvyen Brendon


General Interest