Horatio Nelson's lost love letters are unearthed

More than a thousand unpublished letters from Lord Nelson - including private love notes to his mistress, Emma Hamilton - have been unearthed in what is being hailed as one of the most important finds in naval history.

More than a thousand unpublished letters from Lord Nelson - including private love notes to his mistress, Emma Hamilton - have been unearthed in what is being hailed as one of the most important finds in naval history.

The collection, compiled by the National Maritime Museum in London, also comprises military letters, personal correspondence to the future king and missives to his wife, notably colder in tone than those to his famous lover.

The correspondence of Britain's greatest naval hero, dating up to the Battle of Trafalgar which claimed his life, has been put together to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle next year and will go on public display in the spring. The most illuminating of the 1,300 letters - tracked down from collections across the world by the museum's Nelson's Letters Project - are written by Nelson to his mistress.

One missive in particular, penned at the height of the Trafalgar campaign, has been discovered for the first time, after prudish 19th-century editors had removed passages that were considered "too warm". In the letter, written while pursuing the French fleet in June 1805, Nelson tells Lady Hamilton, the wife of one of his closest friends, the high-ranking British diplomat Sir William Hamilton, that he would "with pleasure lay at your feet" when he returns from the campaign. He goes on to beg for "a sweet kiss" from her as "reward" for his "hard fag", before signing off with the line: "for Ever and Ever I am your faithful ever faithful and affectionate".

The letter, along with dozens of others addressed to Lady Hamilton, sheds new light on a love affair considered nothing short of scandalous in the early 19th century. In another unpublished letter, it is revealed for the first time that Nelson celebrated his victory at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 by throwing an impromptu birthday party for his absent mistress. Scores of others range from debates with his captains over tactics to friendly correspondence with the future King William IV.

Nelson won a string of crucial battles in the early 19th century, including Copenhagen, the Nile and Trafalgar. He lost his life to a sniper in the last, but only after a tactical masterstroke had ensured victory against the odds for the British.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence