ROUGH PASSAGE TO LONDON combines Lloyd’s meticulous research and reporting abilities with rich imagination and his close personal connection to the family drama at the core of the story. His search to find out more about his seafaring ancestor began with an oil portrait of Captain Elisha Ely Morgan he inherited from his grandmother. All he knew about this ancestor was that he was a ship captain who was a close friend of Charles Dickens. After two years of research, he had found intriguing anecdotes and scraps of historical information about Morgan, but no journals. He combed family records and found a typewritten copy of an actual letter Ely Morgan’s mother received from a sailor in 1816 when Ely was just ten years old. The letter notified her of a double tragedy— her two eldest sons, William and Abraham, were apparently lost at sea. The details about Abraham’s fate were puzzling and cryptic. The novel evolved from there. The result is a pitch-perfect historical fiction layered over a heart-pounding mystery that will prove irresistible to lovers of sailing, American history, British culture and great suspense.
Elisha Ely Morgan is my direct ancestor. This story is the way I have imagined him based on what is known about his life and personality from family records, and extracts in books and articles. As a child, I often looked at his portrait hanging in the living room of my grandmother’s house. A faint hint of a smile on his lips implied a touch of whimsy. I was told simply that he was a famous ship captain who sailed to London and was a close friend of Charles Dickens. Much later, when I began researching his history, I learned that Dickens had written a short story where the central character was closely modeled after Morgan. The story was called “A Message from the Sea”. I was motivated to find out more. I hope that this ancestor of mine, who entertained Dickens and many others in London with his seafaring yarns, has passed down to me some of his storytelling ability.
© 2013 Robin Lloyd
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