William Clark Russell
1844 – 1911
Who was William Clark Russell?
At the age of 13 Russell joined the Merchant Navy, serving for eight years. The hardships of life at sea permanently damaged his health, but provided him with material for a career as a writer. He wrote short stories, press articles, historical essays, biographies and a book of verse, but was best known for his novels, most of which were about life at sea. He maintained a parallel career as a journalist, principally as a columnist on nautical subjects for The Daily Telegraph.
Russell campaigned for better conditions for merchant seamen, and his work influenced reforms passed by Parliament to prevent unscrupulous ship-owners from exploiting their crews. His influence in this respect was acknowledged by the future King George V. Among Russell's other contemporary admirers were Herman Melville and Algernon Swinburne.
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