Privateers and Privateering

In this book, first published in 1910 at the height of Britain's naval arms race with Germany, E. P. Statham (b. 1848) presented the lives and exploits of, in his words, 'licensed plunderers'. Insisting his tales were 'without embroidery' but were intended 'to amuse and entertain', Statham clearly had a fondness for adventure and an almost grudging admiration for his subjects. A retired Royal Navy officer at the time of publication, Statham was also the author of a number of medieval histories, and at one point was the superintendent of a School Ship, which when moored in the River Mersey (Statham was born in Liverpool) was twice burnt down by its pupils. In his conclusion, Statham questions the possible role of privateering in the wars yet to come. Engaging and colourful, the stories perhaps reveal as much about the buccaneering spirit of the author as they do about their subjects.