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This is the first biography in fifty years about Charles Stewart Rolls (27 August 1877-12 July 1910). He was a pioneer motorist, balloonist and aviator of the early motorized planes; he is best known for the Rolls-Royce automobiles. Rolls graduated from Cambridge with a degree in mechanical engineering.
I was amazed to learn that Britain was slow in accepting the automobile compared to other countries. Apparently the railroads were so efficient and easily accessible people saw no need for a personal automobile. According to Lawson, France accepted the car immediately and was the leader in car manufacturing, laws and also car racing. Rolls had the first car at Cambridge, the first car in Wales and wrote on motoring for the newspapers/ magazines and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Rolls also raced cars and won the Tourist Trophy race on the Isle of Man. He also raced in the early Monte Carlo Rally. He also held the World Land Speed Record. Prior to getting in to automobiles he raced bicycles. He formed the C.S. Rolls& Co and opened a car showroom in London. He had to teach people to drive as part of selling the automobile.
Rolls met Henry Royce and together they build the Rolls –Royce automobile. Rolls was an excellent sales person and Royce a master builder of the automobile, their goal was to build the perfect automobile. Lawson details Rolls personal life as well as his life of adventure. Rolls died in a plane crash at the age of 32.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. Lawson managed to capture the spirit of the Victorian and Edwardian age of motoring. The author also captures the spirit, élan and glamour of the Edwardian era, which existed before World War One. This was an exciting time in London history with Rolls with his car dealership and Selfridge with his department store. The author did a adequate job narrating his own book.
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