Award winning author, William H. White has been an historian specializing in the maritime heritage and American involvement in the Age of Sail for most of his adult life. A life-long sailor himself, he continues to sail and race actively in his home waters. He has sailed under square rig, giving him a knowledgeable and first hand insight to the complex workings of the vessels about which he writes. He served as an officer in the United States Navy in the ’60’s and was actively involved in naval operations for three years in Vietnam.
He is a Life Trustee of the USS Constitution Museum in Boston, and Trustee of LYNX Educational Foundation. He has been a consultant to the reproduction 1812 privateer Lynx and was named a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society. For many years he was a Trustee and officer of the National Maritime Historical Society and heavily involved in their operations. Early in 2012 White was elected to the Board of Trustees of Operation Sail, Inc. OpSail was one of the main sponsors and participants in The War of 1812 Bicentennial commemorative events scheduled for 2012-15.
His War of 1812 Trilogy (A Press of Canvas, A Fine Tops’l Breeze, and The Evening Gun (2000-2001)) was well-received and he lectures frequently on the War of 1812 and the Barbary Wars (1803-5). The Greater The Honor, released in April 2003, centers on the Barbary Wars and Stephen Decatur’s exploits in that theater.
His next book, In Pursuit of Glory, is the sequel to The Greater The Honor, and deals with the events leading up to the War of 1812, especially the infamous Chesapeake/Leopard Incident. It follows the fictitious Oliver Baldwin and many actual characters of the period, including Stephen Decatur, Henry Allen, and John Rodgers as they enforce the Jeffersonian Embargoes, deal with British harassments, and finally, go to war. The story concludes with Decatur’s capture of the British frigate, HMS Macedonian and her arrival in Newport, RI as a prize.
Mr. White’s discovery of the little-known story of Britain’s attempt to capture the mutineers from HMAV Bounty triggered his first effort not involving the U.S. Navy. The story involves life in a Royal Navy frigate, exotic locales, storms, shipwrecks, and of course, the capture of some of the mutineers. When Captain Bligh returned to England after his harrowing experience, the shocked Admiralty was not about to let the mutineers remain at large and sent an armed frigate, HMS Pandora, to the Pacific to capture them and return them to England for trial. When Fortune Frowns is the story of this voyage, the capture of the remaining mutineers, and the perilous and disastrous return voyage to England.
A recognized authority on the maritime aspects of the War of 1812, Mr. White was heavily involved with the U.S. Navy and Operation Sail in their bicentennial commemoration efforts beginning in the 2012 and running into 2015. His next release, “. . . our flag was still there” is not only a concise history of the War but a listing of events celebrating the bicentennial. He was commissioned by the U.S. Navy and the National Maritime Historical Society to write this guide to the War and its bicentennial.
After taking a short break from penning novels to write the non-fiction history of the War of 1812, White returned to historical fiction, once again focusing on a little-known incident in Royal Navy history in 1794. The “Wreck of the Ten Sail” is a well-known story in Grand Cayman where White spends his winters and thus seemed right to anchor a follow-on to Edward Ballantyne’s adventures. Gun Bay is the result and tells the story that culminates with 9 merchant ships and 1 Royal Navy frigate on the reef at the east end of Grand Cayman.
Speaking venues include the USS Constitution Museum, Boston; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem (MA); Museum of the Atlantic, Halifax (NS); Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol (RI); Calvert Maritime Museum, Solomons (MD); and India House, NYC, and many others. He has also been a guest lecturer at SUNY Maritime College, Fort Schuler NY. A member of the 1812 Consortium, Mr. White was one of the program speakers at the 2003 Fall War of 1812 Symposium in Baltimore, MD. He has authored, in addition to his novels, a variety of magazine articles on both historical and contemporary subjects. In 2007, he was honored by Sea History Magazine with the first Rodney Houghton Award for Excellence, given for the best feature length article of the year. His article detailed the cruise of Pandora and the capture, trial, and execution of the mutineers.
Mr. White was was honored in 2010 by the USS Constitution Museum in Boston with the Samuel Eliot Morison Award. The award is “the highest recognition by the Board of a person whose public service has enhanced the image of the USS Constitution and who reflects the best of Admiral Morison: artful scholarship, patriotic pride, and eclectic interest in the sea and things maritime and a desire to preserve the best of our past for future generations.”
He joins the ranks of past recipients including Walter Cronkite, Henry Cabot Lodge, Arleigh Burke, Patrick O'Brian, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Ira Dye.
He has appeared on the History Channel on “History or Hollywood” as well as participating as one of the narrators in a “docu-drama” on the Barbary Wars, and has been interviewed numerous times on radio on varying subjects centered on maritime history.