Stockwin, Julian 1944-

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STOCKWIN, Julian 1944-


Born 1944, in Basingstoke, England; married, wife's name, Kathy (a journalist). Ethnicity: "European." Education: Graduate of the University of Tasmania (Far Eastern studies, psychology); studied in Hong Kong. Religion: Anglican. Hobbies and other interests: History of seamanship, music, wine tasting.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hodder & Stoughton, 338 Euston Rd., London NW1 3BH, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Writer. Served with the British Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, achieved the rank of petty officer; commissioned into the British Royal Navy Reserve, retired as a lieutenant commander; worked as an educational psychologist, software developer, and for NATO's Perseus Project.


Historical Novel Society, Society of Nautical Research, Royal Society of Marine Artists.


Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).



Kydd, Scribner (New York, NY), 2001.

Artemis, Scribner (New York, NY), 2002.

Seaflower, Scribner (New York, NY), 2003.

Mutiny, Scribner (New York, NY), 2004.


Novels in the "Thomas Paine Kydd" series.


Julian Stockwin is the author of novels about the sea, reflecting his passion since childhood. In an attempt to dissuade him from seeking the life of a sailor, his father sent him to the Indefatigable, a sail training school. Stockwin's plans for the future were only reaffirmed, however, and two years later, at age fifteen, he joined the Royal Navy. When his family moved to Australia, he transferred to the Royal Australian Navy, in which he served eight years. Stockwin has traveled around the world, seeing service in the Far East and the South Seas. During the Vietnam conflict, he served in a carrier task force and was on board the Melbourne when it collided with the destroyer Voyager off the New South Wales coast in 1964, killing eighty-two officers and crew.

Upon leaving the navy, Stockwin completed his college education, taught for two years, then became a practicing psychologist. He did graduate work in Hong Kong and was increasingly drawn to the field of computer technology and software development. He reentered the Royal Navy Reserve, and in 1990, he returned to England and a position working on the computer-based Perseus Project for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Portsmouth. Encouraged by his wife, an editor, Stockwin later reduced his work to part-time and began writing Kydd, the first book of a maritime series that is projected to contain at least eleven books.

In a Guardian Unlimited online article, Stockwin wrote, "I chose Nelson's time, the great climax of the age of sail and a magnificent canvas for sea tales." Stockwin said he wanted to include his own memories in his writing, "small things, but evocative even to this day—a shimmering moonpath glittering on the water, the sound of voices from invisible night watchkeepers, the startling rich stink of the land after months at sea.… There were the darker memories, too. Savage storms at sea when you feel the presence of nature like a wild beast out of a cage."

Stockwin's research began with his own extensive collection of books and continued at the National Maritime Museum, the Society for Nautical Research, and the Navy Records Society. He spent days visiting HMS Victory, which is docked in Portsmouth harbor, and he used the Internet to locate people who specialize in various aspects of eighteenth-century naval history. Stockwin found character names in eighteenth-century graveyards.

The first novel, Kydd, opens in 1793, with England and France close to war. Thomas Paine Kydd is a twenty-year-old wigmaker plucked from the Guildford pub where he is enjoying a drink with friends and pressed into serving King George on the ninety-eightgun battleship Duke William. In researching the book, Stockwin was amazed to discover that during that period, 120 men from the lower deck made the incredible journey to become officers. Twenty-two rose to the rank of captain, and three reached full admiral. Stockwin had read the naval adventure novels of C. S. Forester, Alexander Kent, and Patrick O'Brian, all of whom wrote their stories from the viewpoint of the officer on the quarterdeck. Stockwin wanted to write about an ordinary sailor, one with the intelligence and drive to accomplish the feat of the common seamen who rose through the ranks.

Landlubber Thomas gets his sea legs, survives a fierce storm, and battles the French, and through him, the reader learns about the operation of the ship. He becomes friendly with Nicholas Renzi, a mysterious and wealthy man who has hired on as a form of self-exile. The cast is populated with a captain whose ability improves with time, a sadistic boatswain, seamen who hope to claim a bounty, and politically motivated potential mutineers. Booklist's Brendan Dowling wrote that "adventure and historical fiction fans will delight in this well-crafted yarn."

Artemis, the second novel in the series, is named for the frigate upon which Thomas and Nicholas find themselves and which is engaged in battle with the French frigate Citoyenne. After a hard-won victory, Thomas returns to Portsmouth, where he awaits a hero's welcome, but also where his sister, Cecilia, arrives to say that their father is ailing. When Thomas returns to help his family, Nicholas accompanies him. They open a school, but leave it to be managed by another and return to the sea on board the Artemis. Thomas sees the Orient and meets Sarah Bullivant, who tries to force him to give up the sea. A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that "likable Tom and his shipmates make a snug fit in that page-turning Forester and O'Brian tradition."

W. John Kotow reviewed Artemis for ABC Far North online, noting that it "is based on dramatic real events, but it is fiction at its best. Julian Stockwin is a scholarly writer, and his knowledge of things nautical is on display. He is not averse to the cliché of genre and delights his readers with colourful language of the sea. His characters are superbly drawn, and even this early in the series, the promise is there for Tom Kydd and Nicholas Renzi, who will follow their destiny as seafarers."

The third book of the series is Seaflower, named for the topsail cutter that Thomas admires but which may be no match for the forces of the sea, in spite of his considerable seamanship. The story begins with Thomas and Nicholas waiting to testify in the court-martial of an officer. Before the case comes to trial, they are shipped out to the Caribbean, where working in an Antiguan dockyard reveals another side of the Royal Navy. Reviewing the novel for Publishers Weekly, a commentator called Seaflower "the latest installment of this rousing naval adventure series" and highlighted "Stockwin's richly detailed, if idealized, portrait of life on ship and shore in Britain's oceanic empire."



Booklist, April 1, 2001, Brendan Dowling, review of Kydd, p. 1454.

Books, spring, 2001, Liz Thompson, review of Kydd and interview with Stockwin, p. 26.

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2001, review of Kydd, pp. 535-536; May 1, 2002, review of Artemis, p. 608.

Publishers Weekly, June 4, 2001, review of Kydd, p. 59; June 3, 2002, review of Artemis, p. 65; June 2, 2003, review of Seaflower, p. 36.


ABC Far North, (August 23, 2002), W. John Kotow, review of Artemis.

Author Publishing Ltd., (January 8, 2003), Trevor Lockwood, "Julian Stockwin."

Guardian Unlimited, (November 23, 2002), Julian Stockwin, "Shipshape at Last."

Julian Stockwin Home Page, (April 23, 2003) (January 8, 2003), Trevor Lockwood, "Julian Stockwin."

Guardian Unlimited, (November 23, 2002), Julian Stockwin, "Shipshape at Last."

Julian Stockwin Home Page, (April 23, 2003).

Large Print Reviews, (January 8, 2003), Rochelle Caviness, review of Kydd., (January 8, 2003), Rachel A. Hyde, review of Kydd.

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Stockwin, Julian 1944-

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