W. Jeffrey Bolster
Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire and award-winning author
Licensed for many years by the U.S. Coast Guard as Master of Motor, Steam, and Auxiliary Sail Vessels of not-more-than 200 gross tons upon Oceans, Jeff Bolster writes about people and the sea. A Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire, he is author, co-author, or editor of four books, and he remains deeply concerned about the health of the ocean.
Bolster’s seafaring experience informed his first book, the prize-winning Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail, published in 1997. An epic tale of the rise and fall of black seafaring, Black Jacks restored a sense of ownership of the maritime past to people of African descent. In 2014 the NEH commissioned a short film, “The Scholar and the Sailor,” about Black Jacks and how reading can change lives.
Bolster’s latest book, The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail, published in 2012, is an environmental history of overfishing, and a parable about how humans use the earth. The Mortal Sea won the John Lyman Book Award for American Maritime History, the A.H.A.’s Rawley Prize in Atlantic History, the A.H.A.’s Beveridge Prize for the History of the Americas, and the Bancroft Prize. An occasional contributor to the New York Times and The Boston Globe, Bolster has also written numerous magazine features. He is a popular public speaker.
Educated at Trinity College (BA), Brown University (MA), and the Johns Hopkins University (PhD), Bolster lives with his wife, Molly, in Portsmouth, NH. When not writing, he still messes about in boats, and has logged over 12,000 miles between New England and the eastern Caribbean in his Valiant 40, Chanticleer, during the last four years.