Having worked on the Restoration navy as an academic historian for 25 years, while harbouring since childhood a hankering to write novels, it took a remarkably long time for the penny to drop and for me to write a story set in the era I had researched so extensively. The upshot was Gentleman Captain, the first of the ‘journals of Matthew Quinton’. Matthew is based on a very real breed, the young men of high birth who were given command of warships by King Charles II despite having virtually no experience of the sea. His adventures are set against the backdrop of the Anglo-Dutch wars, the world of Samuel Pepys, the intrigues and scandals of the Restoration court, and such famous historical events as the Plague and the Great Fire of London.
I also continue to write non-fiction: Pepys’s Navy won the Samuel Pepys prize for 2009, Britannia’s Dragon was nominated for the Mountbatten Literary Award in 2014, and my new book, Kings of the Sea: Charles II, James II and the Royal Navy will be published by Seaforth in the summer of 2017. I’m the Chairman of the Research Committee of the Society for Nautical Research, which awards the annual Anderson Medal for maritime books, Chairman of the Media, Marketing and Membership Committee of the Navy Records Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. I was formerly Chairman of the Naval Dockyards Society and Vice-President of the Navy Records Society. After a long teaching career which culminated in a deputy headship, I now write full time.