A NEW book highlighting the life of Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) founder Sir William Hillary has been launched at Poole’s Lifeboat College.

Wareham author Janet Gleeson says she was inspired to investigate Sir William’s ‘remarkable life’ after volunteering for the charity at its Poole headquarters.

Janet, a successful novel and non-fiction writer, as well as an expert for BBC TV’s Antiques Roadshow, draws on previously unpublished letters - many written by Hillary himself – revealing the RNLI’s development and its founder’s private life.

The book is called The Lifeboat Baronet: Launching the RNLI.

Janet explained: “I was volunteering for the RNLI and was shown Sir William’s letter collection in the archive.

“I just thought what an amazing story, and I saw that nobody had properly researched him, despite his incredible life.

“What kind of man was he?”

She added: “He was interesting – a man of many facets – not just a goody-goody, he had flaws in his personality which made him more interesting to me.

“But he was also brave, dynamic - to set up a charity campaign like he did, he needed to have a clear vision.”

Research for the biography was carried out by Janet at the RNLI headquarters in Poole, London, the Isle of Man and Essex, where Hillary spent his early married life.

“He had a chequered love life,” said Janet. “He was something of a ladies’ man.” The RNLI was established on the Isle of Man by Sir William in 1824. Janet said he frequently took to the lifeboats himself, despite never learning to swim.

Visit thehistorypress.co.uk /index.php/the-lifeboat-baronet.html for more information on the book.