Dr Sam Willis provides his story for our first “Why I Became an Historian” guest post.
I first studied naval history at university an undergraduate under NAM Rodger and Dr Michael Duffy. The first essay I ever wrote on the subject was on the originality of Nelson’s Tactics at Trafalgar. I come from a naval family but had never studied naval history – in fact I had never actually studied history at all and was supposed to be studying archaeology. I found naval history particularly interesting and did as much as I could until I graduated, when I signed up for a PhD, which followed my early interest in tactics. I subsequently published my PhD as a book ‘Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: The Art of Sailing Warfare’, and have never stopped writing since. I spent a year writing my Fighting Ships series and then three years writing my Hearts of Oak trilogy. I am currently working on a Naval History of the American Revolution which has involved considerable travel and ‘research’ (watching baseball) in America. I am also particularly interested in History in the media and have presented a number of TV programmes, most recently a 3-part series on Shipwrecks for BBC4.
Dr Sam Willis can be found on Twitter
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