Philip R. Marett (1820? – 23 April 1857)

We hold the "first" and "second" editions of P.R. Marett's Yachts and yacht building; being a treatise on the construction of yachts and matters relating to yachting, published in London by E. and F.N. Spon in 1865 and 1872 respectively. There is no indication from the preface of the first edition nor the introduction to the second edition, that the author was not responsible for these publications. There is an elusive edition by Hunt, London, dated 1856; this might be what the author referred to in the 1865 edition as: "a great portion ... was published ... in Bell's Life, in a series of papers which was very incomplete without the tables of calculations, drawings, etc." It should also be noted that the yachts referred to in the text, drawings and tables all date prior to Marett's death.

However, his obituary as published by "Bell's Life" (Marett had been published by this journal) is clear that Marett was born circa 1820 in Southampton and died some eight years before our "first edition."

We have reached the conclusion, without absolute proof, that Dixon Kemp (1839-1899), for nearly thirty years yachting editor of The Field, took up the work started by Marett, taking off the lines of many of the most famous yachts of the day and publishing them with credit to Marett, with all the original calculations updated as necessary. Kemp's work took fuller form in 1876 with the large quarto volume Yacht Designing, and two years later a smaller but no less valuable work, Yacht and Boat Sailing.

Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle [Town Edition]

03 May 1857

DEATH OF PHILIP R. MARETT, ESQ. We have this week the painful duty to perform of announcing the death of P. R. Marett, Esq, a gentleman to whom our readers are indebted for numerous most excellent contributions on yachts and yachting matters, which from time to time have appeared in the columns of Bell's Life. Endowed with abilities of no ordinary nature, and having received an education befitting his position and rank in society, his love for what eventually became his favourite pursuit and amusement was very early in life developed, aud having by hard labour both in the yard and in the mould loft of one of the most eminent shipbuilders on the banks of the Thames laid the foundation for his subsequent acquirements, he by study and actual practice afloat succeeded in becoming one of the best amateur yachtsmen in this or any other country. It was furious in the palmy days of the Heroine, Cygnet, Mosquito, &c, to observe how easy it was to ascertain by noticing in a match how the yachts were handled whether or not Mr Marett was aboard one of them, and many a cup has he won for the former owners of those and other vessels by whom he was valued, and not beyond his merits, as a staunch friend and a pleasant companion, whether on or off the water. Shortly before his death, which took place on the 23d of last month, he published a work, entitled Yachts and Yacht Building, having for its foundation a series of articles which he had previously penned for this paper. When it appeared it was pronounced by able critics to be one of the best, if not the best, book extant upon the subject, and, although for some time past he had himself been fully aware that he held his life on a very precarious tenure, he was almost up to the last moment engaged in experiments having for their object the development of the peculiar views which he had advocated in that treatise. So much for what may be termed the public character of a man whose career was ended at the early age of 37. In private life aud with his private acquaintances he had a manner peculiarly his own, genial, healthy, and spirit-inspiring, reflecting as it were the image of his kindly and excellent disposition. No one who knew him could long be in his society without feeling that he was better for the life-giving intercourse with a joyous and light-hearted companion. His friends aud relatives have sustained a loss hard to bear, and still more difficult to supply, and many a rough pilot and weather-beaten sailor of his native place (Southampton) has 'ere now dropped a bitter tear of regret on the grave of one who, in the hour of need, was ever at hand with prompt and willing aid.


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