Swordplay & Swashbucklers

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“With his latest exploration of the phenomenon of piracy Benerson Little has established himself as perhaps the foremost authority and scholar in the field.”

—Frank Sherry, author of Raiders and Rebels: A History of the Golden Age of Piracy

“Little, a former Navy SEAL and maritime practitioner…has become a leading chronicler of the annals of piracy…”

—Nikolas K. Gvosdev in History: Reviews of New Books

“Little (Fortune’s Whelp), a former Navy SEAL, takes the wind out of many a pirate’s sail in this charming examination of the many myths surrounding the seafaring rogues… Little has a deep affection for his subject that occasionally leads him to affectation, but his use of piratical jargon is more charming than jarring; clearly he’s having a good time, and so will readers.”

 Publisher’s Weekly, September 11, 2017

My blog includes musings, perspectives, commentary, and other history on the subjects of swordplay, swashbuckling, and sea roving in fiction, film, and reality–and anything else that comes to mind. Many of the posts are complimentary or supplementary to the books I’ve written.

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, in search of a legitimate publisher. I’ve also written numerous magazine and journal articles on piracy, privateering, naval tactics, fencing, and historical swordplay. Much of my early writing was inspired by my experience as a naval officer and Navy SEAL.

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, and also to Oak & Iron, a tabletop game of ‘historical naval battles set in the age of piracy.’ Besides my naval service, I’ve also worked as an analyst developing Navy SEAL tactics for the Naval Special Warfare Strategy & Tactics Group, and consulted regularly for a private intelligence gathering firm. In my spare time I teach fencing at the Huntsville Fencing Club and I’m currently writing my fencing master thesis (finally), with forty-three years’ experience in modern, classical, and historical fencing and twenty-three years’ teaching them.

My writing has three critical inspirations: the truth rather than myth, trope, and cliché, popular though they may be; the desire to avoid repetition, specifically to avoid repeating in slightly altered form what has already been written many times (a problem in books on piracy and some other history); and, especially, to write books I’ve wanted to read but couldn’t because they didn’t exist.

Most recently, The Golden Age of Piracy: The Truth About Pirate Myths is in print (Skyhorse Publications, 2016), and is available in hardcover in bookstores and online, also in ebook, and in early 2021, in trade paper. A couple of brief review excerpts:

“Little (Fortune’s Whelp), a former Navy SEAL, takes the wind out of many a pirate’s sail in this charming examination of the many myths surrounding the seafaring rogues… Little has a deep affection for his subject that occasionally leads him to affectation, but his use of piratical jargon is more charming than jarring; clearly he’s having a good time, and so will readers. Packed with insight and adventure, Little’s book is sure to strike a note with armchair swashbucklers of all ages.” —Publisher’s Weekly, September 11, 2017.

“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 Fortune’s Whelp, a true prequel to the (hopefully) forthcoming Fortune’s Favorite: “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.”

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.

Futher, my wife and I have founded a small publishing company, Treasure Light Press, to publish exceptional annotated editions of classic swashbuckling literature, both fiction and non-fiction. Our first project is the 100th anniversary annotated edition of Captain Blood: His Odyssey by Rafael Sabatini.

Profile Image LR
My wife Mary, me, and our exhausted son Aidan. Photo by old friend and Teammate Michael R. Howard.
Halloween 2019, now with Eleanor and Aidan. Photo by Courtney Little.
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.)

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  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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