Billy Ruffian The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon Published by Bloomsbury Publishing in 2003 This is the story of the Bellerophon, a 74-gun ship of the line known to her crew as the Billy Ruffian. She began life in a small shipyard near Rochester on the River Medway and ended it as a prison hulk at Plymouth. In the intervening years the Bellerophon played a conspicuous part in three famous sea battles: the battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794; the battle of the Nile which halted Napoleon’s ambitions in the East; and the battle of Trafalgar during which her captain was shot dead with a musket ball an hour before Nelson himself was mortally wounded. But the most famous event in the life of this remarkable ship took place in 1815, six weeks after the battle of Waterloo: Napoleon had arrived in Rochefort hoping to escape to America but found his route blocked by  the Bellerophon and surrendered to the captain of the ship which had dogged his footsteps for more than twenty years. Excerpts from the book were broadcast on BBC Radio 4 as Book of the Week. “A masterly account and, like all good biographies, says as much, if not more about the historical context as about the subject itself.” The Sunday Times “Richly entertaining and informative…These resurrected logbooks, captains’ letters and court martial reports give us a thrillingly up-close feeling for what it was like to live and fight through those tumultuous best of times and worst of times.” Independent on Sunday “Brilliantly original…the result is a marvellously fresh light on a period so intensively researched that it can sometimes seem beyond further illumination…The book is based on deep research but wears its scholarship lightly, being above all a compelling read. The original ship was not to be easily put down; nor is this admirable account of it.” BBC History Magazine “An excellent biography…Inanimate objects like great ships can have personalities, and through scholarly use of many different sources, Cordingly brings out the Bellerophon’s brave and noble character.” Sunday Telegraph “The accounts of battles are as dramatic as anything you’ll read in Patrick O’Brian’s novels…This is a fabulous book, a richly illustrated labour of love, exquisitely written and fascinating from beginning to end.” Waterstone’s Books Quarterly “Both a brilliant idea and an engrossing book that tells the story of a ship of the line in Nelson’s day…Billy Ruffian is for anyone interested in the Napoleonic wars or entranced by the adventures of Hornblower or Jack Aubrey.” Bernard Cornwell, Books of the Year, Mail on Sunday “A thrilling narrative…so alive that you smell the cordite of the guns and hear the splintering of mighty masts and spars.” The Independent