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The Ship Thieves: The True Tale of James Porter, Colonial Pirate

When London thief James Porter was sent to Australia as a convict, he refused that he had lost his freedom.

When his first escape attempts failed, he was sent to the horrific penal camps of Van Diemen's Land, where he and nine desperate comrades managed to hijack a boat and cross the perilous South Pacific to Chile. There they passed themselves off as shipwrecked mariners, settled under new identities and settled into the lives of free men.

But the British Royal Navy did not take the matter of piracy lightly, and when betrayal led to discovery James Porter's liberty was once again snatched away.

Based on Porter's own long-forgotten writings, this is the story of one man's defiance and courage.


‘A miracle of compressed intelligence.’

The Times

“Rees has pieced together a terrific story... There is nothing about sailing and seamen she doesn't know.”

Sunday Telegraph

“In Rees's hands Porter's story reads like a fictional thriller but imparts the knowledge of a serious historical work.”

Times Literary Supplement

“Relish this ripping, salty yarn... Rees has retold Porter's story with the same panache she showed with her cracking nautical bestseller, The Floating Brothel.”

Manchester Evening News

“A delightful true story.”

The Express

Buy Siân Rees