Praise for Rough Passage to London

Pirate skirmishes, gale-force storms, human trafficking, and other high seas drama pepper Lloyd's poignant and action-packed debut about his real-life ancestor, Captain Ely Morgan. In 1812, young Ely and his older brother, Abraham, witnessed an explosive British raid near their home in Connecticut; they were pursued and fired upon, narrowly eluding capture and certain death. Eight years later, Ely left home to escape his father's temper and to search for Abraham, who had been mysteriously lost at sea years earlier. As the years away from home multiplied, Ely became a seasoned sailor, making devoted, loyal friends as well as vicious enemies. He ascended from novice sailor to captain to manager of the Black X shipping line by virtue of his hard work, intelligence and wit; Ely gained fame, socializing with Charles Dickens and other cultural figures. Yet, an introspective Ely had moments of self-doubt, questioning whether to quit his search and the sea: 'A life at sea can only lead to tragic loss, pain, and suffering.' More clues eventually lead Ely to discover a link between a slave syndicate, his brother's disappearance and his enemies, leading to shipshape conclusion. Lloyd crafts an engaging and thoughtful thrill ride; his mariner Ely Morgan is neither salty nor rum-soaked…he's the thinking man's swashbuckler.

-Publishers Weekly


Robin Lloyd stumbled upon a mysterious letter from his own seafaring past—his ancestor is 19th century socialite and ship’s captain Ely Morgan—that set the plot for his historical novel Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain’s Tale. Lloyd deftly weaves several plot lines together with his journalist’s sense of historical accuracy and his careful research into life on the streets of post Revolutionary War London and the maritime world. The fictional story is about Morgan’s rise through the ranks of the American merchant fleet and London social scene while searching for his brother who disappeared under suspect circumstances. Throw the African slave trade, pretty girls and Charles Dickens into the mix, and the result is a lively, fine read.

-Rich Evans, Sailing Magazine

NBC correspondent Lloyd draws on family history for his debut historical novel about his ancestor Capt. Elisha Ely Morgan. The book opens in 1814, when Ely and his brother Abraham witness a British raiding party torching American boats during the War of 1812. Eight years later, 16-year-old Ely runs away from the family farm in Connecticut after his family receives a letter stating that his two brothers are lost at sea. Lloyd convincingly traces Ely’s career as a seaman, moving across the years and marking his advancement. Not only are we taken on harrowing adventures (mutinies, death-defying sea rescues, political intrigue), but we are given clues as to what might have happened to Ely’s brothers. Eventually, Ely becomes a notable sea captain, sailing across the Atlantic more than 100 times and making friends with such 19th-century luminaries as Charles Dickens, who is inspired to model his central character in the story
“A Message from the Sea” after Ely. ­VERDICT This epic seafaring tale comes highly recommended for its exciting narrative and historical acumen. Lloyd’s research and personal connection to the past bring this tale to life, and fans of Patrick O’Brian will want to add this work to their reading list.

-Library Journal, starred review

Robin Lloyd is a great reporter, and he has shaped meticulous research into a rollicking story of the sea and the tall ships that sailed the North Atlantic in the 1800s. Amazingly, he hadn't planned to write a novel when he began reading about his ancestor, Elisha Ely Morgan—who knew everyone of his day, from Charles Dickens to Queen Victoria. We can be glad that the more [Lloyd] read, the more he realized he had the makings of a fine story.

-Bob Schieffer, chief Washington correspondent, CBS News, author of This Just In: What I Couldn't Tell You on TV


Robin Lloyd has written a meticulously researched and thoroughly entertaining tale of the sea. Drawing on an ancestor who was a well-known sea captain, Robin weaves a tale of adventure and intrigue. The characters are beautifully drawn and believable, but what makes this book so memorable is the sense of what it was like to be on board a packet ship racing across the Atlantic, every sail straining and every line taut. This book will captivate anyone who loves the sea and a well-told yarn.

-David Ignatius, columnist, The Washington Post


Robin Lloyd has written a rousing yarn based on the real life of his dashing, salty ancestor, Captain Elisha Ely Morgan. Robin knows the sea and ships, and he tells this suspenseful tale wonderfully well.

- Evan Thomas, Assistant Managing Editor, Newsweek and Co-author of The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made


From what began as a research project on family history, former NBC News correspondent Robin Lloyd has crafted a rousing sea tale set on the North Atlantic in the 1800s.

Rough Passage to London: A Sea Captain’s Tale (Sheridan House, 376 pages, $16.95 on Amazon) is a novel based on Lloyd’s ancestor Capt. Elisha Ely Morgan. Opening with a British raiding party torching American boats during the War of 1812, the story takes readers aboard a square-rigger and into pirate skirmishes, gales, mutiny, human trafficking and other high-seas drama as Morgan attempts to find his vanished brother. The farm boy-turned sailor has doubts about his life choice at one point, stating: “A life at sea can only lead to tragic loss, pain and suffering.”

-Soundings Magazine


Former NBC News foreign correspondent and Chevy Chase resident Robin Lloyd owes much of his first novel,
Rough Passage to London (Sheridan House, 2013), to his grandmother. She bequeathed to him a portrait of Capt. Ely Morgan, an ancestor who made more than 100 Atlantic crossings, along with several letters Morgan received from Charles Dickens. Lloyd initially thought he’d write something for the family, but the more he learned about Morgan, the more entranced he became. “It was such a rich story,” Lloyd says. “I wanted to see that world through his eyes.” Lloyd’s novel brings to life the world of packing ships and the Anglo-American relationship in the years after the War of 1812. But at its center is Morgan, who entertained everyone from painter J.M.W. Turner to author William Thackeray to Queen Victoria aboard his ship, and became close friends with Dickens, whose short story
 “A Message from the Sea” was inspired by the captain.

-Bethesda Magazine,  January, 2014


Fact meets fiction to weave a fascinating, detailed sea tale inspired by what author Lloyd was told as a child, and then researched as an adult about his ancestor Elisha Ely Morgan, a famous sea captain who was a close friend of Charles Dickens. This is a must read for anyone who's a fan of nautical history, colorful yarns and skillful prose.

-Rick Martell, Cruising World, April, 2014

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