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Speaker: Professor Faye Hammill, University of Glasgow

Professor Faye Hammill explores the images and stories surrounding three famous Canadian Pacific's liners and discusses their cultural significance.

Canadian Pacific's three passenger liners named Empress of Britain were launched on the Clyde in 1905, 1930 and 1955. Two of them served in world wars and one transported British Home Children. One operated some of the earliest world cruises while another hosted fashion shows and helped to sell modern plastic products. Many visual and written representations of these ships are available: ranging from ship models to novels, from media coverage to promotional brochures, and from passenger diaries to letters from military personnel. The 1930 Empress of Britain has attracted by far the most public attention, but her story makes most sense when considered in relation to those of her predecessor and successor. The 1905 ship was the first transatlantic liner built for Canadian Pacific, while the 1955 ship was launched at around the same time that Canadian Pacific ordered three planes for its airline division. Taken together, the three Empresses of Britain help us understand the evolving historical, cultural and literary significance of the ocean liner across the twentieth century.

About the speaker: Faye Hammill is Professor of English Literature and Canadian Studies at the University of Glasgow. She is author or co-author of six books, including Sophistication: A Literary and Cultural History (2010), winner of the European Society for the Study of English book prize. Her project Ocean Modern ( is currently funded by an AHRC Research, Development and Engagement Fellowship. She is involved in several maritime heritage projects: as a trustee of the Unicorn Preservation Society, a board member of the Shipyard Trust and a Charity Associate at Friends of the TS Queen Mary.

The King’s Maritime History Seminar is hosted by the Laughton Naval Unit and the Sir Michael Howard Centre for the History of War in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. It is organised by the British Commission for Maritime History in association with the Society for Nautical Research and with the support of Lloyds Register.