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Sam Willis

Dr Sam Willis is an historian, archaeologist and broadcaster.


Sam is the author of numerous books on maritime and naval history including the bestselling ‘Hearts of Oak’ Trilogy and the ‘Fighting Ships’ Series. He is currently working on a major new study of the American Revolution to be published in 2015 by Atlantic Books in the UK and Norton in the US.

Sam has also published a number of articles on a wide variety of subjects in maritime history. He has written for The Sunday Times, The Mail on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, BBC History Magazine, War in History, The Journal of Military History, The Journal of Maritime Archaeology, The International History Review, The Journal for Maritime Research and The Mariner’s Mirror.

TV, Radio and Historic Seafaring

Sam is an experienced square-rig sailor and seaman. He has worked on the Hornblower TV series and on Channel 4’s award winning film Shackleton. The Shackleton project involved building a replica of Shackleton’s ship the 'Endurance' and sailing her into an arctic ice pack.

In 2012 Sam was part of a team that portaged a replica eighteenth-century batteau from Lake Champlain to Lake George, the first time that this has been done for two hundred years.

In the summer of 2013 Sam was part of a team recreating the 1869 John Wesley Powell expedition - the first time that anyone rowed the length of the Grand Canyon, broadcast in 2014 on BBC2 as 'Operation Grand Canyon'.

In 2012 Sam presented a one-hour film for BBC4 about a mass sailors' graveyard on a beach in Antigua: 'Nelson's Caribbean Hell-Hole'. In 2013 he presented a 3-part series for BBC4 'Shipwrecks: Britain's Sunken History' and in 2014 another 3-part series for BBC4: 'Castles Britain's Fortified History'. BBC4 recently broadcast his most recent series “Outlaws; he is currently filming a series for BBC4 about the Silk Road.

Sam is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 4's 'Making History.'


Sam has worked as a historical consultant for Christie's, the BBC, Channel 4, The History Channel, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel and National Public Radio [Boston Sam is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Visiting Fellow at the University of Plymouth.

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