From Jack Tar to Union Jack

Representing naval manhood in the British Empire, 1870-1918
Conley, Mary A.
Date published: 
November 2008

In this pioneering study, Conley examines the intersection between empire, navy, and manhood in British society from 1870 to 1918. Through an exhaustive analysis of a diverse body of sources that include courts-martial cases, sailors' own writings, and the HMS Pinafore, Conley charts the production of new depictions of naval manhood during the Age of Empire, a period which witnessed the radical transformation of the navy, the intensification of imperial competition, the democratisation of British society, and the advent of mass culture. In providing a long-overdue social and cultural history of the navy, *Jack Tar to Union Jack* argues that popular representations of naval men increasingly reflected and informed imperial masculine ideals in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. Conley convincingly argues that the construction of the British Bluejacket as both patriotic defender and dutiful husband and father stood in sharp contrast to the stereotypic image of the brave but bawdy tar of the Georgian navy whose bravery afloat was only matched by his licentiousness ashore. Through chapters that chronologically chart the transformation of the sailor's image, *Jack Tar to Union Jack* is indispensable reading as it reminds us of the navy's long-standing influence upon British domestic and imperial culture and informs us of the increasing alignment between naval manhood and imperial manliness by the turn of the twentieth century.

This book will be essential reading for students of British imperial history, naval and military history, and gender studies.