The defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte at Waterloo in 1815 was the most momentous news to reach British shores in the whole of the nineteenth century and also the last really important news to arrive without the assistance of technologies such as steam power or the electric telegraph.
It took more than three days to travel to London in a form that people could trust – that’s an average speed of three miles per hour.
THE NEWS FROM WATERLOO is the story of the message, the people and the journey. It is a tragi-comic midsummer’s tale that begins amidst terrible carnage and weaves through a world of politics and war, enterprise and roguery, frustration, confusion, doubt and jealousy.
Along the way it considers the journalism of the time, the roads and carriages, high finance and high society. The cast includes a blue-blooded major with a secret, a Jewish banker wrapped in mystery, a Green Knight, a Black Prince, a tearful damsel abandoned at a ball, a half-mad editor of the Times, a reckless Essex smuggler, a desperately anxious Cabinet and an all-important messenger known only as Mr C of Dover.
The climax brings us to the heart of Regency high society at the summit of the social season in London, with the breathless message: ‘Victory, sir! Victory!’
To whet your appetite, here are five striking facts from THE NEWS FROM WATERLOO: