Basil Lubbock

Alfred Basil Lubbock MC (9 September 1876 – 3/4 September 1944 at Monks Orchard, Seaford) was a British historian, sailor and soldier. He was a prolific writer of naval and sailing histories, and a member of the Society for Nautical Research.


Lubbock's father was also named Alfred Lubbock. His mother was Louisa, née Wallroth. He was descended from Sir John Lubbock, 2nd Baronet.[citation needed] Lubbock spent most of his early life in the care of his uncle. He was educated at Eton College.

In 1896 he tried to make his fortune in the Klondike Gold Rush. He then spent a few months as a professional sailor. He went to Canada for the gold rush of 1898, and intended to prospect for copper, but returned to the Old World because of the Boer War.

Lubbock served in the Boer War, for which he was mentioned in despatches on 8 August 1901.

His first book, Round the Horn Before the Mast, a memoir of his work on tall ships, was published in 1902. He then lived in New York and Canada before returning to Britain to marry in 1912.

In 1914 he served as an artillery officer in India with the Territorial Army. It was here he wrote The China Clippers. He lived at Jako Hill, Simla, from where he painted the Himalayas. He attended the Signalling School in Poona in 1915, then returned to Europe. He served in France during the First World War, for which he was awarded the Military Cross. He achieved the rank of Captain in the British Army.

After the war, Lubbock founded sailing clubs and gave lessons. He worked with Alfred Westmacott to develop a yacht, the Hamble One Design Class.

Lubbock had a long and active friendship with Captain Wilfred Dowman, the man who purchased the Cutty Sark back from the Portuguese; their friendship sprang from examining the work log of the Cutty Sark. He wrote two works that deal with that famous clipper: The Log of the Cutty Sark and Sail: The Romance of the Clipper Ships.


Lubbock is not regarded as a completely reliable source as a historian. He relied too much on correspondence and interviews with crews and captains, rather than documents and fact-checking. He sometimes confused the names of ships and captains, or gave incorrect dates. However, Lubbock's correspondence and interviews are themselves a unique source.

His book The China Clippers was an inspiration for All the Tea in China by Kyril Bonfiglioli.


  • Round the Horn Before the Mast, 1902
  • Nineteenth Century Dramatic Stories of Atlantic Crossings, 1905 (dubious entry: only mentioned in The Rigs Blog: Basil Lubbock; Joshua Rigsby)
  • Jack Derringer, A Tale of Deep Water, 1906
  • Deep Sea Warriors, 1909
  • The China Clippers, 1914
  • The Colonial Clippers, 1921
  • Cruisers, corsairs & slavers : an account of the suppression of the picaroon, pirate & slaver by the Royal Navy during the 19th century, 1922
  • The Blackwall Frigates, 1922
  • The Log of the Cutty Sark, 1924
  • Adventures by Sea from Art of Old Time, 1925
  • The Western Ocean Packets, 1925
  • The Last of the Windjammers, two volumes, 1927, 1929
  • Sail, The Romance of the Clipper Ships (illus. Jack Spurling, ed. F. A. Hook), three volumes, 1927, 1929, 1936
  • The Down Easters. American Deep-water Sailing Ships 1869-1929, 1929
  • Bully Hayes, South Sea Pirate, 1931
  • The Nitrate Clippers, 1932
  • The Opium Clippers, 1933
  • The Coolie Ships and Oil Sailers, 1935
  • The Arctic Whalers, 1937

External links

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