"Martin Frobisher" by James McDermott

Martin Frobisher Elizabethan Privateer James McDermott

Publication date:
06 Aug 2013
Yale University Press
528 pages: 235 x 156mm
12 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


Adventurous and willful, the swashbuckling Martin Frobisher was both a brave sea-commander who served Elizabeth I with distinction and a privateer who single-mindedly pursued his own interests. This highly entertaining biography provides the first complete picture of the life and exploits of Frobisher—from his voyages in search of the fabled Northwest Passage to his courageous resistance to the Spanish Armada and his exploits as privateer and sometime pirate. The book explores Frobisher’s vigorous personality and its manifestation in the turbulence of his career and his impact on others. It also illuminates the robust world of maritime enterprise in England in the sixteenth century, when the shifting objectives of the Elizabethan age brought together felons, merchants, and great officers of state.

James McDermott, a leading authority on Martin Frobisher and the Northwest Passage, offers a riveting account of the explorer, based on all extant manuscript and documentary sources. McDermott sets aside the distortions of Frobisher’s popular reputation as a hero and offers instead a richly detailed portrait of a fascinating but flawed man whose ceaseless search for wealth and fame defined his extraordinary life.

James McDermott is an independent scholar and former special adviser to the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s Meta Incognita Project.

Winner of the 2001 Keith Matthews Prize in the book category, sponsored by the Canadian Nautical Research Society

“I have read nothing that provides a better sense of the demi-monde in which sea-dogs like Frobisher lived. This is an immensely entertaining biography.”—William S. Maltby, University of Missouri