Broadside on a shipwreck


This ballad sheet is typical of the verses published in commemoration of the many maritime tragedies and accidents that occurred during the 19th century - many of these prints were collected as personal keepsakes. The verse is romantic in its tone and was designed to appeal directly to the Victorian sense of melodrama central to popular culture at the time.

The Royal Charter was a steam clipper of some 2,700 tonnes shipwrecked during one of the most violent storms ever to hit the British Isles. The ship first encountered bad weather on the afternoon of 25 October 1859 off the coast of Anglesey, having successfully navigated the best part of her voyage from Melbourne to Liverpool. By midnight hurricane force winds were being measured in the Irish Sea, with as many as 200 vessels driven ashore by high winds. The Royal Charter herself came ashore near the village of Moelfre after snapping her anchor chain, where she broke apart on rocks. More than 450 passengers and crew were drowned during the tragedy, with only 40 men saved.

Full title:
A copy of the verses on the wreck of the Royal Charter
estimated 1859, Manchester, Greater Manchester
Broadside / Ephemera / Illustration / Image
Held by:
British Library
1876.d.41. volume 2

Related articles

Street literature

Article by:
Ruth Richardson
Reading and print culture, Popular culture

From public notes and broadsides to catchpennies and printed songs, Dr Ruth Richardson examines the variety of street literature which informed and entertained the public before newspapers were readily available.

Related collection items