Ashgate Author, Claire Jowitt, Featured on the BBC’s Radio 4 Open Book Programme

Posted by Alyssa Berthiaume, Marketing Coordinator

Airing for the first time on Sunday, September 15 and again on Wednesday, September 18, Ashgate author, Claire Jowitt, was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book Programme. Seems the acclaimed BBC may have found a bit of buried treasure in Jowitt’s swashbuckling pirate text, The Culture of Piracy, 1580–1630.

Culture of PiracyPrior to Jowitt’s invitation onto the program, her text had received numerous accolades, described as a “groundbreaking study…,”“filled with thrilling tales…,” and “skillful literary analysis…” It’s said to be “entertaining and instructive…,” “elegantly written…,” “absorbing and compulsive…”  These are the words of reputable journals: the Review of English Studies, Journal of British Studies, Year’s Work in English Studies, Sixteenth Century Journal, and Notes and Queries.  So, it’s not inconceivable that this all-star line-up of endorsements influenced the BBC to ask Jowitt for an interview.

Or perhaps, in tandem with the book’s literary accolades, it’s the revitalization of pirates through pop culture and mass media—through movies like the Pirates of the Caribbean, introducing us to new, treasuring-seeking characters like Captain Jack Sparrow; and TV shows like ABC’s Once Upon a Time, re-igniting our interest in classic notables like Captain James Hook—that piqued the BBC’s interest in pirates as foci for current nonfiction and scholarship, such as Jowitt’s text.

In either event, she was on deck alongside Neil Rennie, author of Treasure Neverland, across from popular TV and radio personality, Mariella Frostrup, to talk about pirates as actual, historical figures and not just popular media caricatures. Forstrup was on a quest for the truth about pirates. From early pirates’ significance to literature, to the modern-day motivation to glamorize these personages, Frostrup steered Jowitt and Rennie across time, taking a hard, long look at pirates.

Jowitt never veered from course.  In relevance to Frostrup’s questions, she spoke to the ambiguity of pirates throughout literature, dating as far back as third century A.D. and as current as nineteenth-century Romantic literature. Though there is much of interest to the pirate scholar and/or enthusiast to relay, listening to the actual program is far more worthwhile. Hear for yourself and listen to this enlightening interview.  I’m sure you will agree that Jowitt has marked her spot in pirate scholarship.

If you long for more adventure or a glimpse into the life of a pirate, please visit where you can enjoy reading the full introduction to Claire Jowitt’s, The Culture of Piracy, 1580–1630.


Claire Jowitt is now Professor of Renaissance English Literature at the University of Southampton. Her previous books include Voyage Drama and Gender Politics 1589–1642, Pirates? The Politics of Plunder 1550–1650 (ed.) and The Arts of Seventeenth-Century Science (co-ed.).

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