From powder monkey to admiral
Social mobility, heroism and naval manhood
in From Jack Tar to Union Jack
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The naval temperance movement was not singular in revealing the clear class dimensions in the portrayal of naval manhood. Analysing the class implications of representing naval manhood serves as a useful way to understand the domestic formation of imperial manhood. Samuel Smiles' conception of the social order reflected a bourgeois definition of manhood and a gendered conception of class. To Smiles, the 'heroism' of the common 'private' and 'men in the ranks' not only contributed to Britain's military success, it highlighted the working man's ability to better himself. The title of William Henry Giles Kingston later story, From Powder Monkey to Admiral, originally published in 1879 in the first issues of The Boy's Own Paper, charted the perseverance and success of a common boy in Nelson's navy. Although mobility occurred within Nelson's navy where promotion was awarded in battle, it proved increasingly elusive within the late Victorian and Edwardian navy.

From Jack Tar to Union Jack

Representing naval manhood in the British Empire, 1870–1918


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