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More than a thousand unpublished letters from Lord Nelson - including private love notes to his mistress, Emma Hamilton - have been unearthed in what is being hailed as one of the most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More than a thousand unpublished letters from Lord Nelson - including private love notes to his mistress, Emma Hamilton - have been unearthed in what is being hailed as one of the most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 In another unpublished letter, it is revealed for the first time that Nelson celebrated his victory at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 by throwing an impromptu birthday party for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
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea