Swordplay & Swashbucklers

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“Nunca la lanza embotó la pluma ni la pluma la lanza [the lance never blunted the pen nor the pen the lance]”. –Sancho Panza in Don Quixote.

Musings, perspectives, and history by author and historian Benerson Little on the subjects of swordplay, swashbuckling, and sea roving in fiction, film, and reality.

I’m the author of five non-fiction works, including The Sea Rover’s Practice, Pirate Hunting, and The Golden Age of Piracy, on sea roving and piracy, ranging from scholarly to popular works, plus the author of Fortune’s Whelp, a swashbuckling novel with a sequel, Fortune’s Favorite, forthcoming in 2019. I’ve also written magazine and journal articles on piracy, privateering, naval tactics, fencing, and historical swordplay.

I was the historical consultant to the STARZ network’s critically-acclaimed Black Sails television drama for all four seasons, and am the historical consultant to Firelock Games’s critically-acclaimed Blood & Plunder historical table top game, as well as the forthcoming Oak & Iron, a tabletop game of ‘historical naval battles set in the age of piracy.’ I’m also a former Navy SEAL, and at present in my spare time the fencing instructor at the Huntsville Fencing Club, currently writing my fencing master thesis (finally), with forty-one years’ experience in modern, classical, and historical fencing and twenty-one years’ teaching them.

Most recently, The Golden Age of Piracy: The Truth About Pirate Myths is in print (Skyhorse Publications, 2016), and is available in bookstores and online. A brief review: “While a few other volumes discuss pirate myths, The Golden Age of Piracy goes far beyond these. Little sifts through the popular mythology and purposeful ideological speculation to introduce readers to the real pirates without turning a blind eye to their cruelty and crimes. That he does so in language that any reader will understand makes this a valuable resource and worthwhile addition to any pirate aficionado’s or historian’s library.” —Cindy Vallar, Pirates and Privateers: The History of Maritime Piracy

About the recently published novel: “Set in the 17th century during the heyday of privateering and the decline of buccaneering, Fortune’s Whelp is a brash, swords-out sea-going adventure. Scotsman Edward MacNaughton, a former privateer captain, twice accused and acquitted of piracy and currently seeking a commission, is ensnared in the intrigue associated with the attempt to assassinate King William III in 1696. Who plots to kill the king, who will rise in rebellion—and which of three women in his life, the dangerous smuggler, the wealthy widow with a dark past, or the former lover seeking independence—might kill to further political ends? Variously wooing and defying Fortune, Captain MacNaughton approaches life in the same way he wields a sword or commands a fighting ship: with the heart of a lion and the craft of a fox.” At least two sequels are anticipated, and if they work out, prequels.

I’m also at work on contemporary fiction as well, both for adult and young adult audiences, and my wife and I are writing a novel for middle readers.


Profile Image LR

My wife Mary, me, and our exhausted son Aidan. Photo by old friend and Teammate Michael R. Howard.



Teaching a recent beginning fencing class at the Huntsville Fencing Club. Photo by friend and fellow fencer Amy Hitchcock.



Instructing beginners during a recent Modern Pentathlon epee clinic. (Photo: Amy Hitchcock.)


  1. James Mortensen says:

    Wow! Love pirate history and thought I’d read most everything. Thank you for this site and all the new reading material!


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