Angus in Venice


Angus Konstam was born in Aberdeen in 1960, but was brought up in the beautiful but remote Orkney Islands, off the north of Scotland. Although he only lives there for part of the year, he thinks of Orkney as home.

At 18 he joined the Royal Navy on a university scholarship. This gave him an excellent grounding in service life and customs, in seamanship and navigation and in all those little things which a maritime history author needs to know about. It even gave him the chance to sail the waters of the Caribbean - an area he'd write about later. He then studied for a Master's Degree at the University of St. Andrews. In the process he explored the new field of maritime archaeology and wrote his thesis on early naval artillery. Two decades later this formed the basis for Sovereigns of the Sea, his acclaimed history of Renaissance warships.

It also led to a job. In 1985 he was a supervisor on an excavation in the River Thames near the Tower of London, paid for by the Royal Armouries. He ended up staying with the museum for another ten years, becoming a Senior Curator of Weapons.
While he was working in the Royal Armouries, The Tower and the Kremlin decided to swap exhibits – a "Treasures of the Tower" being shown in Moscow while "Treasures of the Kremlin" came to London. At the same time the curators of both museums were encouraged to exchange information, and to examine each other's collections. Angus began publishing articles about arms and armour, and his involvmment with the Kremlin exhibition led to his first book - The Army of Peter the Great - which was published in 1993. This was the start of an relationship with the publisher that resulted in the writing of 60 more books for them!

In 1995 Angus moved to Key West, Florida to become the Chief Curator in the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. Mel Fisher was a treasure hunter who found the wreck of the Spanish treasure galleon Nuestra Señora de Atocha off the Florida Keys. Angus' job was to help turn the place into a bona-fide maritime museum. One way he achieved this was to create travelling exhibits which toured the United States. These included a pirate exhibition, and it was during the research for this that his interest in the subject really took off. He discovered just how little real information was known about pirates, so he decided to find out for himself. So began a quest that turned Angus into one of the world's leading authorities on pirates and piracy!

Angus spent six years in Key West and wrote several more books - including The History of Pirates, which went on to sell over 1000,000 copies. Of course, as he says, in the decade since its publication he uncovered a lot more information. This is why he updated the story - first by producing the definitive Piracy: The Complete History (2008), and then - to reach a wider audience - The World Atlas of Pirates (2009).

Angus returned to Britain in early 2001, and found himself a much sought after full-time writer. He had developed a reputation as an historian who could write well, and was lucky enough to be able to choose projects he really wanted to write about. He currently has over 70 books in print and is on the board of The Society of Authors in Scotland and board of Publishing Scotland. Konstam has also been a "talking head" on many network & cable TV programmes.