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This is the story of the Bellerophon, a ship of the line kwn to her crew as the Billy Ruffian. Under fourteen captains, she played a conspicuous part in three of the most famous of all sea battles: the battle of the Glorious First of June (1794), the opening action against Revolutionary France; the battle of the Nile (1798), which halted Napoleon's eastern expansion from Cairo; and the battle of Trafalgar (1805), which established British naval supremacy for 100 years and during which her captain was shot dead with a musket ball an hour before Nelson was mortally wounded. But her crowning glory came six weeks after the Battle of Waterloo, when the Napoleon, trapped in La Rochelle, surrendered to the captain of the ship that had dogged his steps for more than twenty years.
David Cordingly was Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum for twelve years, where he organized such exhibitions as 'Captain James Cook, Navigator', 'The Mutiny on the Bounty' and 'Pirates: Fact and Fiction'. His other books include Life among the Pirates and Heroines and Harlots.