Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty
But that is only one part of the story and there are aspects of his character that were not entirely admirable. There were, and still remain, questions over his handling of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron at Jutland at which his highly aggressive approach was contrasted with the prudence of his commander, Sir John Jellicoe. His turbulent marriage and his extra-marital liaisons were to be suppressed in his official biography but in some ways, these aspects are as significant to our understanding of him as Nelson and Emma Hamilton’s great affair is to our reading of the Napoleonic era at sea.
Roskill deals with all these issues and in doing so brilliantly reassesses Beatty’s place in history. Access to new material at the time of writing allowed Roskill to write a balanced and wholly credible account of an extraordinary life, and this wonderfully readable and intimate biography will appeal to a whole new generation of readers.