Author Captain Richard Woodman

'I have been lucky enough to know, sail and drink with Richard for many years, his knowledge is far wider and deeper than my own and it is a privilege to spend time together'

Captain Richard Woodman LVO MNM FNI Elder Brother, Trinity House, London.
Award Winning Author and Naval Historian


Richard Woodman was born in London and went to sea at the age of 16 in cargo-liners trading world-wide. Qualifying as a navigating officer he served in deep-water merchant ships and Ocean Weather Ships until shortly before his marriage, when he joined the Trinity House Service, maintaining aids to navigation, including lighthouses, light-ships, buoys and beacons around the British coast as an officer in the Corporation’s vessels. His history of Trinity House yachts and tenders won the Marine Society’s Barbara Harmer Award in 1978. Promoted to command in 1980, he had the first of his fourteen Nathaniel Drinkwater stories published that year by John Murray.


After an active career in Trinity House during which he commanded the Corporation’s flagship THV Patricia, Richard retired in 1997. He was elected a Younger and then in 2006 an Elder Brother of Trinity House. As such he has sat as a Nautical Assessor in the Admiralty Court. He is a former Chairman of the National Historic Ships Committee, and a Fellow of the Nautical Institute.


In 1994 Richard wrote the first of his prize-winning trilogy of convoy operations during the Second World War and has in all written seventy works of fiction and maritime history, winning the Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award in 2001 and the Society for Nautical Research’s Anderson Medal in 2005. His historical works also include The Sea Warriors, a history of frigate operations, and The Victory of Seapower, an account of the post-Trafalgar decade. He has published a study of the Battle of the River Plate and was for twelve years a regular columnist in Lloyd’s List. In 2010 he completed a five-volume History of the British Merchant Navy for which he was awarded The Marine Society’s Thomas Gray Medal and the Fellowship of the Maritime Foundation. He co-authored Light Upon the Waters, the Quincentennial official history of Trinity House, collaborated with Captain Dan Conley OBE RN, in the writing of Cold War Command, concerning Conley’s command of nuclear attack submarines and has written a two volume history of the East India Company’s Maritime Service, which is available on line.


His most recent works are Beyond Madagascar, A Bold & Consequential Voyage, based on John Weddell’s voyage to China in the 1630s, four novellas based on 20th century merchant ships and a fifth, Magnetic Anomaly, which as born of Richard’s experiences in an Ocean Weather Ship.


Richard was awarded the Merchant Navy medal in 2013 and appointed a Lieutenant in the Royal Victorian Order by HM The Queen in the New Year Honours of 2014.



Published Titles: Fiction:


The Nathaniel Drinkwater series:

This is a series of historical novels based on the life-story of a fictional British naval officer called Nathaniel Drinkwater. In part they are based on real historical events and cover the period from 1779 to 1843. They have been very well reviewed and editions are available in large print and as recorded books on tape. They have been translated into German (Ullstein Verlag) and a few into Japanese (Futami).


Date                Title                      BRITISH ISBN


1981                An Eye of the Fleet         0 7195 3788 6

1982                A King’s Cutter             0 7195 3946 3

1983                A Brig of War               0 7195 4009 7

1984                The Bomb Vessel             0 7195 4113 1

1985                The Corvette                0 7195 4197 2

1985                1805                        0 7195 4243 X

1986                Baltic Mission              0 7195 4340 1

1988                In Distant Waters           0 7195 4505 6

1989                A Private Revenge           0 7195 4690 7

1991                Under False Colours         0 7195 4839 X

1992                The Flying Squadron         0 7195 5074 2

1995                Beneath the Aurora          0 7195 5373 3

1997                The Shadow of the Eagle     0 7195 5754 2

1998                Ebb Tide                    0 7195 5764 X


All published by John Murray Ltd, 50 Albemarle Street, London, W1X 4BD.

All titles formerly available in Warner Paperbacks under different ISBNs. Five Omnibus editions are now available from Time Warner Books, the last of which contains two short stories, The Steeple Rock and The Night Attack which fill in two gaps in Drinkwater’s life and were first published in anthologies of sea-stories. The First and Second Omnibuses have no special title but the third, fourth and fifth are called respectively:  Blaze of Glory, Death or Damnation and Distant Gunfire All titles published in US.


Omnibus editions:


First Omnibus                             0 7515 2979 6

Second Omnibus                            0 7515 3108 1

Third Omnibus: Blaze of Glory             0 7515 3174 X

Fourth Omnibus: Death or Damnation        0 7515 3190 1

Fifth Omnibus: Distant Gunfire            978 0 7515 3267 8

The James Dunbar Series:


This is an incomplete series about a young seaman in the early 20th Century. The stories are more introspective than action-packed and deal with his experiences as he travels about the world. James Dunbar is the son of an English country parish priest and discovers a desire to be an artist. He meets a variety of colourful characters all of whom have varying impacts upon his life. As usual, the author makes use of several true incidents in his fiction.


1995                Waterfront      0 316 90594 1

1998                Under Sail      0 316 87771 9


Published by Little,Brown (UK)Ltd, Brettenham House, Lancaster Place, London WC2E 7EN. These titles were available in Warner paperbacks under different ISBNs. This series has now been aborted due to poor sales and lack of interest by the publishers. Given the right incentive, the author would like to complete this series.


Other Fiction:


1988                Voyage East     0 780719 546181


Published by John Murray in a short print-run. It is ‘autobiographical fiction’, loosely based on the author’s experiences as a young navigating officer in British cargo-ships between 1960 and 1966 and derived from his journals. It is illustrated with maps and was very well reviewed by the British maritime press.


1990                Wager           0 71954784 9


Published by John Murray and as a Warner Paperback. The story is set on a tea-clipper in the late 1860s. Its chief figure is a young woman named Hannah Kemball who is put up as a stake in a wager by her father, the commander of the tea-clipper Erl King and Hannah’s fate depends upon the result of the race between the ships getting from China to London. Published in the US by Sheridan House.



1990                The Darkening Sea    0 356 19592 9


Published by Macdonald and as a Warner Paperback. This is a story about three generations of a British sea-faring family and spans the period from about 1900 to 1984. It is no longer available in hardback. German edition by Ullstein. Published in the US by Sheridan House.



1992                Endangered Species   0 356 20428 6


Published by Little, Brown (UK) Ltd and as a Warner Paperback. The story is based on the decline of the British merchant shipping industry and tells of the last voyage of a British cargo-ship to her breaking up in the Far East. During this last voyage the captain faces a number of challenges and has to bring his ship through a typhoon. Published in the US by Sheridan House.



1995                The Accident         0 7278 4777 5


Published by Severn House Ltd, 9-15 High Street, Sutton, Surrey SM1 1DF. This is a sea-story with international implications and concerns a popular revolution in a Central American country and its impact upon the life of the captain of a British ship. Out of print. Rights reverted to author.


1996                Act of Terror        0 7278 4907 7


Published by Severn House. A wide-ranging story with a host of characters all of whom are caught up in a world-wide international terrorist conspiracy. Very exciting and fast paced. Out of print. Rights reverted to author. German edition by Ullstein. Out of print. Rights Reverted.



1997                The Antigone         0 7278 5178 0


This book is published by Severn House This book was first published in 1988 by John Murray as Voyage East (see above).
A 2002 reprint called Blue Funnel-Voyage East (ISBN 1 902964 04 7) is again published by Avid Publications of Liverpool.



1997                Captain of the Caryatid      0 7278 5279 5


Published by Severn House. An ironic novel about the captain of a British coasting ship who leads a complicated life. An amusing character study with some fine action. Out of print.


1998                The Cruise of the Commissioner    0 7278 223 9x


Published in late 1998 by Severn House. This is a sequel to Captain of the Caryatid.


1999                The Captain and the Commissioner   0 330 39298 0


Published by Pan Books as ‘two books in one volume’.


2000                The Guineaman       0 7278 5530 1


Published by Severn House, the first in a new maritime historical series about the life of William Kite. The first book begins on a slaving ship trading to the Guinea coast at the outbreak of the Seven Years War.


2000                The Privateersman   0 7278 5593 X


Published by Severn House, the second Kite story set during the run up to the American Revolution.


2001                The East Indiaman   0 7278 5749 X


Published by Severn House, the third and final Kite story set during the American Revolution in largely eastern waters.


2002                Dead Man Talking    0 7278 5760 6


Published by Severn House, a story concerning the Second World War convoy PQ17 which was dispersed in the Arctic with dire consequences.


2003                The Ice Mask        0 7278 5920 X


Published by Severn House, a story set in the Arctic in which the friend and mistress of a yachtsman who commits suicide after a voyage to Spitsbergen try and find out what caused him to take his own life by replicating his voyage.


2008                The Disastrous Voyage of the Santa Margarita    9 780727 867230


Published by Severn House. An imaginative reconstruction of the voyage of the Manila Galleon Santa Margarita.              


2011                A Ship for the King        9 7807278 80789


Published by Severn House. A novel, conceived as the first of a trilogy about maritime life in the 17th Century, it tells the story of Kit Faulkner, a young lad taken up by Henry Mainwaring and his adventures at sea up to and including the outbreak of the English Civil War.


2012                For King or Commonwealth    9 7807278 81724


Published by Severn House. The second in a short series about Kit Faulkner follows him from exile in the company of the future Charles II in the Low Countries. Following his patron, Sir Henry Mainwaring Faulkner makes his way back to England and, after a short period in the Tower of London, emerges to become a distinguished naval officer in the Commonwealth fleet, fighting in the Dutch Wars.


2013                The King’s Chameleon        9 7807278 82967


Published by Severn House. The third and final work in a short trilogy about Kit Faulkner in which he is caught up in the Restoration, the rendition of regicides from The Netherlands, the treachery of his own son and the complications of a headstrong wife and a beautiful mistress.





1983/2005     Keepers of the Sea          0 9532422 8 5


Originally published by Terence Dalton, this is a history of the lighthouse tenders of Trinity House, the ancient English corporation who look after lighthouses, lightvessels, buoys and beacons in English and Welsh waters. In 1978 this book won the Barbara Harmer Award given by The Marine Society to the British seafarer judged to have made the best use of his leisure time.


Republished in a revised, fully redesigned edition by Chaffcutter Books in 2005 (ISBN 0 953242285).



1985          View from the Sea            0 7126 1024 3


Published by Century Publishing Ltd, Portland House, 12-13 Greek Street, London W1V 5LE. This was a joint venture with the British artist David Smith and is an illustrated history of English and Welsh lighthouses. It is now out of print. The Foreword was written by HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.


1994     Arctic Convoys, 1941-45       0 7195 5079 3 (hardback)

1996     Arctic Convoys, 1941-45       0 7195 5752 6 (paperback)    

2004     Arctic Convoys, 1941-45       0 7195  6617 7 (paperback)


All published by John Murray. A historical study of the British and American convoys supplying the Soviet Union with war materials during the Second World War. The foreword is written by a British Admiral-of-the Fleet, The Lord Lewin of Greenwich. This book was very well reviewed. The paperback editions contains a few minor corrections. No US Edition.


Reprinted by Pen & Sword in 2007 (ISBN 978 1844 156115)


1997/2005  The History of the Ship     0 85177 721 X


Published by Conway Maritime. A full history of ships from prehistory to modern times. Has many fine illustrations, some in colour. Was very well received and described as an important book. US edition is by The Lyons Press. It was followed by a paper-back edition and in 2005 by a trade paperback (ISBN 9 781844 860043)


The latest edition is a trade paperback published in 2005, the Year of the Sea, ISBN 1 84486 004 3.


1998      The Victory of Seapower 1806-14  0 86176 038 8


Published by Chatham Publications, Frith Street, London. One of a series of six books with contemporary illustrations covering the British navy in the wars of the American and French Revolutions and the Napoleonic War. Most are compilations from several contributors This author contributed the entire text for the fifth volume.


A new edition published by Caxton denied the author’s right to assert his intellectual property ownership by removing his name from the title page.


1999     The Story of Sail  1 86176 075 2


Published by Chatham Publishing. A co-operative project. Text by Richard Woodman, 1,000 drawings by Veres Laszlo. US edition is by The Naval Institute Press and a German edition is in production.


2000 Malta Convoys     0 7195 5753 4

2003 Malta Convoys     0 7195 6408 5 (paperback)


A companion volume to Arctic Convoys written at the instigation of the late Admiral of the Fleet, the late Lord Lewin KG. Lord Lewin died before completion and there is no foreword. Has been very well reviewed. There is no US Edition.


2001     The Sea-Warriors     1 84119 183 3

2002     The Sea Warriors     1 84118 598 7 (paperback)


Published in July 2001 by Constable and Robinson. The story of the commanders of cruisers in the Age of Nelson, with contemporary sail plan illustration by Tony Fernandes. Published in the US by Carroll and Graff. Extremely well reviewed.

Reprinted by Seaforth in 2014 (ISBN 9781848322028)

2002  The Lighthouses of Trinity House     1 094050 00 X


Published by Thomas Reed publications and with contributions by Jane Wilson who appears as co-author although RMW wrote all the text and edited the lighthouse keepers’ interviews. Publication under-written by Trinity House who own the copyright.


2004    The Real Cruel Sea         0 7195 6403 4

2005    The Real Cruel Sea         0 7195565991


Published by John Murray the third ‘convoy study’ which is essentially a history of the Merchant Service during the Second World War and is subtitled: The Merchant Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic, 1939-1945. This book has earned high praise and won the Society for Nautical Research’s Anderson Medal for 2005. A paper-back edition followed.


Reprinted by Pen & Sword in 2011 (ISBN 978 18488 44155)


2005   A Brief History of Mutiny    1 84119 737 8


Published as one of Robinson’s ‘Brief History’ series this book takes a look at mutiny in a historical sense and gains gravitas by having been written by a former ship’s captain.


2006    of daring temper…           0 9525292 2 X


Commissioned by The Marine Society as a 250th Anniversary History of the Marine Society.



2007  The Battle of the River Plate, A Grand Delusion     9 781844 156894


Published by Pen & Sword as one of their Campaign Chronicles. A reassessment of the battle. Published in the United States by the Naval Institute Press (ISBN 978159114 0405)


A History of the British Merchant Navy in five volumes:


2008   Neptune’s Trident             9 780752 448145


2009   Britannia’s Realm             9 780752 448190


2009   Masters Under God             9 780752 448206


2010   More Days, More Dollars       9 780752 448213


2010   Fiddler’s Green               9 780752 448220


Published by The History Press as a five-volume work. It won the Marine Society’s Thomas Gray Memorial Silver Medal in 2010.


Later a revised edition was republished as e-books and print-on-demand volumes by the Endeavour Press.


2013  Light Upon the Waters           9 780957 599109


Published by Trinity House. Written with the assistance of Andrew Adams. The officially commissioned Quincentennial history of the Corporation of Trinity House.


2014  Cold War Command                9 781848327696


Co-written with Captain Dan Conley OBE RN, a life of a submariner in the Cold War. Published by Pen & Sword.


2016    A Low Set of Blackguards, A History of the East India Company

        and its Maritime Service, 1600 – 1834, Vol. 1, The Heroic Age, 1600 -  1707.  9780995498402.

Published by RMW.


2017     A Low Set of Blackguards, A History of the East India Company

         and its Maritime Service, 1600 – 1834, Vol. 2, Triumph & Decline, 1708 – 1834.  9780995498426

Published by RMW.


2017     Revolution! The ‘Liberty’ War, 1775 – 1784. A narrative history of the

         American War of Independence. 9781973154716.                                                    

         Published by the Endeavour Press.





2015      Sword of State; A trilogy - The Forging (9781523443680)


          The Tempering (9781523444175)


          The Wielding (9781523443918)


Three historical novellas/novels based on the life of General George Monck, first Duke of Albemarle,

published as e-books by the Endeavour Press and released through Amazon. The print-on-demand versions have the ISBNs shown in brackets.


2015      Sword of State: The Remarkable Story of George Monck


An omnibus edition of the above trilogy.


2016   A Low Set of Blackguards, A History of the East India Company
        and its Maritime Service, 1600 – 1834,
       Vol. 1, The Heroic Age,1600 -  1707.   9780995498419


2017  A Low Set of Blackguards, A History of the East India Company

      and its Maritime Service, 1600 – 1834,
      Vol. 2, Triumph & Decline, 1708 – 1834.  9780995498433


2017   Revolution! The ‘Liberty’ War, 1775 - 1784


2018   The William Marshal trilogy – The Knight Banneret (9781982914035)                                                                                                                              


        The King’s Knight (9781718034167)


        The Guardian of the Realm (9781718171862)


Three historical novellas/novels based on the life of William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, published as e-books by the Sharpe Press and released through Amazon. The print-on-demand versions have the ISBNs in brackets.


2019      Beyond Madagascar; A Bold and Consequential Voyage.

Published by Sharpe Books. An imaginative reconstruction of the seventeenth century project to colonise Madagascar – which failed – and the first mercantile voyage to China by a British ship under John Weddell. This was the author’s last full-length work and is a quirky story, written in the past historic tense that pluck John Weddell from obscurity; besides being an homage, it is also a somewhat polemic work with a highly charged mis en scene that was described by one reader as ‘brilliant’.


2020      Cold Truth.

Published by Sharpe Books. A novella concerning a voyage to the Arctic.


2021      The Judgement of His Peers; A tale of the Sea.

Published by Sharpe Books. A novella based on real events.


2021      An Absence of Imagination; A tale of the China Seas.

Published by Sharpe Books. A novella inspired by real events.


2021     Unintended Consequences; A Tale of the South China Sea.

A sequel to An Absence of Imagination published by Sharpe Books.


2021     Magnetic Anomaly; A Seaman’s Yarn of the North Atlantic.

A novella based on the author’s experiences in an Ocean Weather Ship.


Completed work yet to be published;


   A River in Borneo; A Tale of the East Indies – a novel.


Privately produced Work;


    201X  Old Man’s Business; A memoir, Volume One.


    20XX  Old Man’s Business; A memoir, Volume Two.


    2021  The Cruise of the Vestal, 1847.


Other published work:


Richard Woodman has also produced an Introduction for a reprint of Admiral Lord Cochrane’s Autobiography of a Seaman published by The Lyons Press of New York, and has contributed two original additional Drinkwater stories to Constable and Robinson. The Steeple Rock, and The Night Attack were commissioned for their Mammoth Book series of short stories (See the Nathaniel Drinkwater novels). This title is published in the US by Caroll and Graf. Both stories are included in the Fifth Drinkwater Omnibus Distant Gunfire.


He was asked to provide additional text to Richard Hough’s Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century for its US publishers, Overlook. The UK publishers are Constable. The circumstances for this arose from the author’s death.


Richard Woodman has also written introductions to the Folio Society editions of Joseph Conrad’s Almayer’s Folly and Tales of Unrest, An Outcast of the Islands and The Rescue.


Woodman, ghost-wrote Resolution, attributed to David Rutland and Emma Ellis and published in 2017 by Head of Zeus. In this he was instrumental in the narrative construction and the writing of some 95% of the main text. He is credited by consent as ‘consultant’.


He also assisted Joan Bakewell as nautial consultant for her novel All the Nice Girls.


He has contributed to several magazines and publications, including Country Life, and was for over twelve years a regular monthly contributor to Lloyd’s List. He has had papers published in the Society’ for Nautical Research’s learned journal, The Mariner’s Mirror, and contributed to the Naval Review and the Trafalgar Chronicle. Several of his books have been translated into Dutch, German, Spanish, Italian and Japanese.


© Richard Woodman


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