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                                                  Charles Rolls of Rolls-Royce  

            The book tells the story of Charles Stewart Rolls , pioneer motorist, balloonist and aviator,

            best know as the co-founder of the car firm that bears his name, Rolls-Royce.

            The book captures the spirit of the Victorian and Edwardian age of motoring - the passing of

            the horse-drawn era - the advent of the horseless carriage.

            Rolls was just nineteen when the Red Flag Act was repealed in 1896.

            Rolls had the first car at Cambridge, the first car in Wales, and wrote on motoring in the

            Press and Encyclopaedia Britannica in his very early twenties.

            He raced in the scary, inter-town races on the Continent, winning his class in one. He won an

            early Tourist Trophy race, over 200 miles, on the Isle of Man, held the Monte Carlo Rally record,

            and controversially the World Land Speed Record - never formally ratified. He raced in America

            against fierce competition, seeking to publicise the ‘Best Car in the World’.

            He had a London car showroom, which held two hundred cars, and employed some seventy staff.

            The firm trained chauffeurs, sold cars, taught people to drive and sold cars on hire purchase, an

            innovation at that time.

            Rolls was astute enough to recruit Claude Goodman Johnson, who was superb at public

            relations, first for C.S.Rolls & Co., Where he was a manager with Rolls, and then later on with

            Rolls-Royce Ltd. Johnson was former Secretary of the R.A.C. (Known then as The Automobile

            Club of Great Britain and Ireland), the ultimate authority in matters motoring, since the birth

            of British car ownership.

            Seeking a quality English car to sell, Rolls met Henry Royce, and despite their disparate

            backgrounds, a marriage made in heaven ensued. Both men were perfectionists. Rolls knew

            wealthy buyers wanted - Royce knew how to make the perfect, silent car, whose quality would

            remain long after the price was forgotten.

            Unlike Napier and Edge, their principal rivals, sales and manufacture merged, and Rolls-Royce

            went on to make ‘The Best Car in the World’, raising finance for expansion and meticulous

           development on the strength of its prowess and reputation for supreme quality.

           Ironically, once Rolls-Royce Ltd had no need to race and could sell everything it made,

           particularly the Silver Ghost, Rolls was needed less and less. He, therefore, having followed

           events unfolding in America, turned to the next frontier - powered flight, using his passion

           for ballooning to study wind and weather.

           He met the Wright Brothers, learned to fly in a year and was looking to build aeroplanes under

           licence in England, in the year in which he made the first two-way Cross-Channel flight. A few

           weeks later he was dead, killed at a flying show in Bournemouth.

           A private, handsome man, son of a millionaire peer, Rolls socialised discreetly.

           His dedication to motoring and flying, and his parsimony, made him a complex character,

           unmarried at the date of his death.

          The book introduces a heavyweight cast of characters whom Rolls was lucky enough to meet,

          socialise and work with. These included Lord Northcliffe (Alfred Harmsworth), founder of the

          Daily Mail, Sir Henry Royce, Claude Johnson (the Hyphen in Rolls-Royce), John Douglas Scott

          Montagu, the motoring M.P., The artist and sculptor Charles Sykes, Lord Brabazon of Tara,

          Orville and Wilbur Wright, Louis Bleriot and the Prince of Wales, and in ballooning, bon viveur

          adventurer, Frank Hedges Butler, and Griffith Brewer.

          Fellow race competitors, apart from Brabazon include Australian Selwyn Edge, and Charles

          Jarrott, who, like Rolls, motored fearlessly in the early intercity races across Europe.

          In a man’s world there was no shortage of glamour. The ladies included balloonists Vera

          Hedges Butler who, at sixteen, climbed Mont Blanc, and Mrs May Harbord, both, at one time,

          companions of Rolls. Via Car Illustrated, edited by Montagu, Rolls Would have known Selwyn

          Edge’s girlfriend and works driver Dorothy Levitt, ‘The Fastest Girl on Earth’, and also Montagu’s

          long time mistress, Eleanor Thornton, generally regarded as Sykes model for the Sprit of

          Ecstasy, better known as the Flying Lady.

          At thirty-two Rolls did more than most do in a life twice as long, and hopefully the book captures

          the spirit, elan and glamour of the Edwardian era, which existed before World War 1 brought it to

          an end.