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The late Lady Brassey - views of the yacht SUNBEAM

Date: 22 October 1887
Overall: 200 x 303 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00009092
Place Manufactured:England

User Terms

    Engraving of five illustrations from the Illustrated London News titled 'The late Lady Brassey - views of the yacht SUNBEAM'. A portrait of Lady Annie Brassey appears top centre with the caption: 'Lady Brassey died on board the SUNBEAM at sea, September 14'. Captions for the other four illustrations read, from top left: 'The state bedroom', top right: 'The nursery', bottom left: 'The dining saloon', and bottom right: 'The SUNBEAM'. The artist's initials, 'H.C.B.', appear at lower right.
    SignificanceSUNBEAM, owned by Lord Thomas Brassey, was the first private steam yacht to circumnavigate the world during a journey that took place in 1876-77. SUNBEAM was well known internationally through the publication of Lady Annie Brassey's books on the vessel's voyages, but it also had a strong connection to Australia. SUNBEAM visited Australia in 1887 as part of another around-the-world voyage and returned again in 1895 when Lord Brassey accepted the post as Governor of Victoria. In 1915 SUNBEAM was utilised as a hospital ship at Gallipoli.
    HistoryThe steam yacht SUNBEAM was designed by Mr St. Clare Byrne, of Liverpool, England, and launched in 1874. The yacht was built for politician Lord Thomas Brassey (1836-1918) who later became governor of Victoria, Australia. ‘Sunbeam’ was the nickname of Brassey’s daughter, Constance Alberta, who had died of scarlet fever, aged four, in 1873. SUNBEAM’s figurehead, a gold-painted depiction of the young girl, is now in the collection of the Royal Museums Greenwich.

    Between July 1876 and May 1877, Brassey, along with his wife, four children and two pugs, sailed SUNBEAM around the world. The family embarked on the circumnavigation with 30 crew members including a doctor, a carpenter, stewards and a cook. Brassey’s wife Annie published a book on the journey, titled 'A Voyage in the Sunbeam: Our home on the ocean for eleven months'. The book recorded their journey in detail and became a best seller, running to nine editions and being translated into seventeen different languages.

    The family completed many more voyages and Lady Brassey wrote three more books on their adventures. The Brassey's last journey included a four month circumnavigation of Australia, in mid-1887. In September 1887, several days out of Port Darwin and onboard SUNBEAM, Lady Brassey succumbed to malaria and was buried at sea. The completion of her final book, ‘The Last Voyage, to India and Australia in the Sunbeam’, was overseen by Thomas and published posthumously in 1889.

    In 1895 Lord Brassey accepted the post as governor of Victoria, a position he held for five years. Brassey sailed to Australia in SUNBEAM to take up his post, arriving in Melbourne in October 1895 with his new wife and young daughter. SUNBEAM was a regular and popular sight in Australia during Brassey’s time as governor as he continued to use the vessel as a means of travel during his official duties. The previous adventures of Brassey and SUNBEAM were already well-known to the public at this time due to Annie Brassey’s celebrated book on their 1876-77 circumnavigation.

    Brassey and his family returned to England on SUNBEAM in 1900. Fifteen years later the yacht was utilised as a hospital ship during the Gallipoli campaign of WW1 and in 1916 Brassey donated SUNBEAM to the Government of India to continue in use as a military convalescent ship.

    The last owner of SUNBEAM was Sir Walter Runciman who built a second yacht, SUNBEAM II, along similar lines. SUNBEAM was broken up in Morecambe, in 1930.

    Additional Titles

    Primary title: The late Lady Brassey - Views of the yacht SUNBEAM

    Web title: The late Lady Brassey - views of the yacht SUNBEAM

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