Hello! I’m J D Davies, or else just David. I write both fiction and non-fiction, primarily with a naval focus and usually set in the ‘early modern’ period, from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries.
My latest series, published by Canelo like all my fiction titles, begins with Sailor of Liberty. It’s set in the ‘classic age’ of naval fiction, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars (1793-1815), but has the ‘USP’ of taking the French point of view. The hero, Philippe Kermorvant, has an unusual background: brought up in America, where his philosopher father was living in exile, he gains his first experience of naval warfare fighting in the Revolutionary war, subsequently serving in the navy of Catherine the Great of Russia before arriving in France, his father’s homeland, at the height of ‘the Terror’ of 1793. Philippe faces suspicion of his unusual life story, while his aristocratic birth threatens to take him to the guillotine at any moment. Even when he does get a command, he has to contend with a mutinous crew and a malevolent enemy among his officers, let alone the overwhelming power of the Royal Navy. Sailor of Liberty was published in January 2023 and the second title in the series will follow in October.
My bestselling naval historical fiction series ‘The Journals of Matthew Quinton’, with eight titles published to date, is set in the seventeenth century. This is a little known but hugely important period in naval history: it saw some of the largest battles of the sailing age, the beginnings of a professional navy, the evolution of the ‘line of battle’ and a number of dramatic historical events, such as the Plague of 1665, the Great Fire of London and the Dutch attack on the Medway in 1667, debatably the greatest defeat in British history. It was the age of Charles II, of Samuel Pepys, of Isaac Newton – and of my fictional hero, Matthew Quinton, a young man suddenly given command of a warship despite knowing nothing whatsoever about the sea. His story is founded on the very real experiences of those who found themselves in exactly that position – the ‘gentlemen captains’ of the Restoration age. The Quinton books have been highly acclaimed, with The Times describing them as ‘a series of real panache’ while Conn Iggulden wrote ‘Hornblower, Aubrey, Quinton – a pantheon of the best adventures at sea’.
My trilogy ‘Jack Stannard of the Navy Royal’ is set in the Tudor era, following the fortunes of one seafaring family from the Mary Rose to the Spanish Armada. As England looks outward towards new oceans and new worlds, the Stannard family battles against relentless enemies, foreign and domestic, while also struggling to come to terms with the switchback religious changes of the sixteenth century. All the while, though, their greatest enemy of all is the relentless force that, day by day, attacks their home town of Dunwich – the sea itself.
My award-winning non-fiction work has mainly been set within the same period of history. Kings of the Sea: Charles II, James II and the Royal Navy won the Society for Nautical Research’s Anderson Prize for 2017, and was also awarded a Certificate of Merit for the Maritime Foundation’s Mountbatten Prize in the same year. My survey of the late seventeenth century navy, Pepys’s Navy: Ships, Men and Warfare 1649-89, won the Pepys Prize for 2009. I branched out to write my first non-naval book, Blood of Kings: The Stuarts, The Ruthvens and the Gowrie Conspiracy, published in 2010, while Britannia’s Dragon: A Naval History of Wales was published by The History Press in 2013, and was subsequently shortlisted for the Mountbatten Prize. I’m the Chair of the Society for Nautical Research, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society for Nautical Research, and a former chairman of the Naval Dockyards Society.
You’ll find my more detailed biography here, and you can read an interview with me in Quarterdeck magazine here. You can also hear me talking about historical fiction and non-fiction here, in company with some friends from my local author group. I blog on this site on most weeks – you can find the latest posts if you scroll down on this page, and you can search earlier posts using the boxes at the very bottom. You can order my books from my Amazon author page, or in the case of the featured books on this page, directly via the links provided (I’ll soon extend this facility to all my other titles on the ‘My Books’ page). Other outlets are available, though – support your local independent bookseller!