Books by Helen Doe
One Crew: The RNLI's Official 200-Year History
Amberley Books, February 2024
In the 200 years since it was founded, the RNLI has saved more than 144,000 lives and is one of the most respected organisations in the UK and Ireland. It began with a meeting in London in 1824 to act on a proposal by Sir William Hillary. It is his vision that still drives the RNLI today. The vast majority of its crews are volunteers, backed up by large numbers of fundraisers from every walk of life. This is a look at how it has responded to the inevitable stresses and external pressures from its initial foundation to the present day. The RNLI story features many unsung heroes and heroines as well as the high profile names and lesser-known rescues, as well as the well-known events.
With access to the rich RNLI archive, this book takes a fresh look at a much loved institution.
Reviews of One Crew: The RNLI's Official 200-Year History
'In One Crew, Helen Doe writes the official history with verve and precision. There are astounding stories, scrupulously researched and deftly told. ..generosity of purse, body and soul are everywhere in this scrupulous and gripping history.' Horatio Clare, The Spectator.
Stanford Tuck: Hero of the Battle of Britain, the Life of the Great Fighter Ace
Grub Street Publishing, September 2023
A completely new biography of this famous fighter ace. In January 1942 Tuck was one of the top three fighter aces. With filmstar good looks he was a glamorous role model for the RAF publicity machine and an eager press and public wanting wartime heroes. He fought over Dunkirk and distinguished himself in the Battle of Britain. But in 1942 he was shot down and imprisoned in Stalag Luft III where his roommate was Roger Bushell, the Great Escape mastermind. Tuck narrowly escaped being murdered by the Nazis and later made a successful escape into Russian territory.
This book has been written with access to Tuck's personal papers and seeks to understand the complex man behind the myths.
Reviews of Stanford Tuck: Hero of the Battle of Britain, the Life of the Great Fighter Ace
Professor Richard Overy: 'Stanford Tuck is a neglected hero of the British narrative of the Second World War despite his success as a fighter ace in the critical years. Helen Doe has successfully rescued Tuck as an airman worth knowing better, and at the same time has removed the many myths and distortions that earlier accounts accumulated. This is no hagiography, but a thoroughly researched biography that presents the many sides of Tuck's personality and career with candour but also with sympathy.'
Stephen Bungay, author of Most Dangerous Enemy: ‘Scrupulously researched, this book tells the story of the human being behind the hero, bringing home the true tragedy and suffering of war. It makes for a compelling read.’
Simon Pearson, author of The Great Escaper : 'The book paints a very vivid picture of Tuck - a man with faults and failures amid all the success - and so much more interesting as a result. I very much like the way Helen Doe has drawn on many sources and includes them as part of the narrative. A really good read.'
SS Great Britain: Brunel's Ship, Her Voyages, Passengers and Crew
Amberley, July 2019
A new book on this wonderful ship using new sources and new information on her passengers and crew. In SS Great Britain, Helen Doe provides a unique narrative account of this most famous and historically important of British ships.
The book charts the ship's brilliant design and construction, including the contribution of engineering genius Brunel. But it also brings to light the contribution of many other individuals, ranging from crew members to passengers, drawing on the records of the SS Great Britain Trust, from its archive in Bristol Docks, the ship's birthplace and resting-place today. In this way, the ship's life and times are recreated and the history of a technical marvel of its age is given a human face.
This a compelling account of an iconic ship and of an important moment in the industrial history of Britain and the wider world.
Reviews of SS Great Britain: Brunel's Ship, Her Voyages, Passengers and Crew
'An incredibly well researched and thoroughly well written book! Absolutely fascinating! Would recommend to any history lovers or those interesting in maritime history and the SS Great Britain' Amazon review Jan 2020
'Doe tells the story of the Great Britain, including her construction and launch, success as a public spectacle, commercial failure as a transatlantic liner, adaptation to the Australian trade, role as a troop ship in the Crimean War and ‘Indian Mutiny’, conversion to sail, abandonment on the Falklands, and twentieth-century salvation. Sharply written with a lively pace and full of colourful anecdotes, Doe’s work takes what is a familiar story and shows us a different side to the ship.’ Edward Gillin, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, International Journal of Maritime History, Vol 32, 2020
Brunel's Ships and Boats
Amberley , September 2018
A complete look at all of Brunel's maritime ventures from a rowing boat to the great monster, the Great Eastern. Brunel was very engaged in the design of boats from his teens and this book brings them all together for the first time with over 100 illustrations.
The First Atlantic Liner: Brunel's Great Western Steamship
Amberley Publishing, July 2017
The Great Western is the least known of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s three ships, being overshadowed by the later careers of the Great Britain and the Great Eastern. However, the Great Western was the first great success, confounding the critics in becoming the fastest ship to steam continuously across the Atlantic, and began the era of luxury transatlantic liners. It was a bold venture by Brunel and his colleagues, who were testing the limits of known technology.
This book examines the businessmen, the shipbuilding committee and Brunel and looks at life on board for the crew and the passengers using diaries from the United States and England. The ship’s first voyage made headline news in New York and London and involved a race with the small steamship Sirius. The Great Western’s maiden voyage was a triumph, and this wooden paddle steamer became the wonder of her age. She linked antebellum New York with the London of Charles Dickens and the youthful Queen Victoria. The ship continued to carry the rich and the famous across the Atlantic for eighteen years.
Reviews of The First Atlantic Liner: Brunel's Great Western Steamship
'Doe's graceful and well researched narrative reveals a good deal about the career of this pioneer vessel [and]...reminds us of the genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.' William Fowler, Jnr, The International Journal of Maritime History
'Helen Doe has written a marvellous new book. [She] writes in an engaging manner with lots of details drawn from the passengers' letters, diaries, and press articles of the period.' W. Mark Hamilton, The Mariner's Mirror, the journal of the Society for Nautical Research.
'A lively account of life on board, based on reports from the contemporary press and from the diaries of British and American passengers' - The Book Bag
Fighter Pilot: The Life of Battle of Britain Ace Bob Doe
Amberley Books, May 2015
In June 1940, at the age of twenty, Bob Doe believed himself to be the worst pilot in his squadron. Just three months later he was a highly decorated hero of the Battle of Britain. This is the story of the pilot who, in his own estimation, was not promising material for a fighter pilot. He left school at fourteen and had none of the qualifications or background of his fellow officers. But he found his place in the Battle of Britain, shooting down fourteen enemy aircraft and sharing in two others (he was the third highest scoring pilot of the Battle). He was unusual in achieving these victories in both Spitfires and Hurricanes. This biography tells the story of Bob’s remarkable career, including his time in Burma leading an Indian Air Force squadron against the Japanese. He was a modest man who spoke for many veterans when he asked that they should not be considered as heroes but remembered for what they did. This book celebrates Bob’s achievements and also those of the men who fought alongside him.
Reviews of Fighter Pilot: The Life of Battle of Britain Ace Bob Doe
"Probably the best biographical account I have read of anybody in any walk of life and I recommend it without reservation." - RAFHS Review 2017
Maritime History of Cornwall
University of Exeter Press, October 2014
Co editor and contributor with Professor P. Payton and Dr. A. Kennerley
A long awaited history of this very maritime of places. Each period has a detailed introduction by the three editors and is then followed by commissioned articles on specialist subjects such as the maritime dimensions of the Civil War in Cornwall, the early Duchy of Cornwall, the development of the ports, shipbuilding, steam, fishing, the tin trade and smuggling.
Winner of Holyer An Gof Award for best book on Industrial Heritage 2015
The History of Fowey Harbour: A Fair and Commodious Haven
In the mediaeval period, Fowey was the most important port in Cornwall. Today it is still an important port for the export of china clay and a place for yachting, walking and holidays of various kinds. This book shows how the harbour developed over the centuries, telling the tale of the men and women who shaped the history and the ships that sailed from Fowey across the oceans.
An Introduction to the Maritime History of Cornwall
Tor Mark Press, 2010
This is a brief introduction to a very large subject. To the casual observer Cornwall’s maritime history might be seen as consisting only of fishing, smuggling and wrecking, but for hundreds of years Cornwall was a very active maritime community trading across the world. This industry has defined the location and shape of many Cornish coastal towns. It is a world that has almost totally disappeared, except for the occasional sail loft, shipbuilding yard or master mariner’s house.
Buy this book from Bookends of Fowey.
Enterprising Women and Shipping in the Nineteenth Century
Boydell & Brewer, 2009
Far from the genteel notion of nineteenth century businesswomen as milliners and dressmakers, this study shows that women could and did manage male businesses and manage men. Women invested in the expanding shipping industry throughout the late eighteenth and the nineteenth century and ran non-feminine businesses such as shipbuilding. This book shows that women in the period as capable business managers.
From Coastal Sail to Global Shipping: A History of the Steamship Mutual Underwriting Association
SIMSL, October 2009
Established in 1909, Steamship Mutual is one of the world’s top insurance clubs for P & I cover (Protection and Indemnity). P & I clubs are owned by the members who come together to mutually insure each others ships. They are non-profit-making and the day-to-day management is handled by a management company, in this case, Steamship Insurance Management Ltd. Steamship Mutual’s story is a fascinating one, taking it from a small group of coastal sailing ships in 1909 to today’s world of supertankers, cruise ships and ever larger container ships. The members represent all parts of the globe and shipowners of all nationalities work together to pool their risks.
Jane Slade of Polruan
Truran Books, 2002
Jane Slade of Polruan is an account of a family of shipbuilders in a small Cornish village over a hundred years. At the heart of the enterprise was Jane Slade, who took control of the family business on her husband’s death. She was the only woman shipbuilder in Cornwall and her legacy lived on through successive generations of shipbuilders, repairers and mariners, and in the ship named after her. Jane’s story inspired Daphne du Maurier’s first novel The Loving Spirit.
In this book the facts behind the fiction are related. The book is of considerable interest to both Daphne du Maurier fans, maritime historians and local historians. There is an index of the ships that the Slades built and the many local people who had shares in them. There is a detailed comparison of the fictional characters and their real counterparts. A previously unpublished letter by Daphne du Maurier is reproduced in full and gives a fascinating insight into the way she wove fact into fiction. The book is illustrated with contemporary prints and photographs; in addition there are new photographs taken by Christian du Maurier Browning, Daphne’s son, which capture the magical spirit of the Fowey estuary.
Buy this book from Truran Books.