Knight would write of the young Maxwell pair and some of their adventures in The Little Affair of the Thames and Medway Canal
. It was shortly after this that Maxwell built his next boat, Penguin
, based on the hull of a Thames tugboat (which features prominently in Knight's "Waterloo Bridge" story). He outfitted her as a floating studio on whose decks he could arrange large canvases for painting. Penguin
was the married couple's first home—even their wedding reception was held aboard.
His pre-war interest in both sketching maritime scenes and exploration by boat led to a commission as the Naval Artist for The Graphic
(a relationship that would last through the coming war) and, after the articles by Knight a few years earlier, resulted in a number of accounts of his adventures afloat, documented for in The Yachting Monthly
. These included A Motor Boat's Discovery of the Upper Medway, The Cruise of the Penguin, and A Voyage to the Vosges. His adventures nearly always included a man named "Brown" who was sometimes his friend Walter Henry Brown but who was occasionally also his younger brother Gordon—renamed "Brown" for the occasion.
As with so many of his contemporaries—including brother Gordon—when war broke out in 1914 Maxwell volunteered. Initially he spent a year working as a correspondent for The Graphic
at the front, illustrating all he saw. After a year he enlisted as a Lieutenant in the R.N.V.R. and was posted to the command of a Motor Launch (M.L. 139)
stationed on the North Sea Patrol and out of Sheerness
. He continued to provide illustrations and paintings to The Graphic
and The Yachting Monthly
. In accordance with regulations and tradition his work was all published without his usual signature. Instead it was simply signed "A Naval Officer". Indeed, many in the "regular" Navy were unaware of his ongoing illustration work.
Some mention of his progress in the Navy can be found within the Gazette
where his promotion within the R.N.V.R. from Sub-Lieutenant to temporary Lieutenant is noted on 18 July, 1916—at the same time as the same promotion for fellow sailor Edwin S. Turner: