Staff: David Jenkins

Shortly before he died in 1935, Sir William Reardon Smith started to write his autobiography. He died before he completed it, but what he wrote (held in our archives) provides a fascinating account of the young Devonian seaman's voyages - many from south Wales ports - in the last three decades of the nineteenth century. Sir William later moved to Cardiff, eventually becoming one of Britain's leading shipowners, and a generous benefactor of the National Museum of Wales and many other good causes in south Wales and his native Devon.

The book will comprise a short introduction, the text of Sir William's unfinished autobiography with footnotes, and finally, a lengthy essay looking at the latter part of Sir William's life, assessing his achievements as both shipowner and philanthropist. It will be lavishly illustrated, using the museum's extensive photographic archive which comprises many photographs of both the Reardon Smith family and their ships. There will also be maps showing the many ports world-wide that Sir William visited and illustrations of the sail plans of the differing types of sailing vessels on which he served.