Samuel Bruce Adlam Willis (born 24 April 1977) is a British historian, television presenter and writer. He lives in Devon.
He studied History and Archaeology at Exeter University, graduating in 2000 and went on to earn a PhD in Naval History from Exeter, studying under Professor Nicholas Rodger. He went on to research for an MA in Maritime Archaeology from the University of Bristol where he studied under Professor Mark Horton.
He is a visiting Fellow in Maritime and Naval History at the University of Plymouth, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is the editor of Navy Records Online, the online-publishing branch of the Navy Records Society.
He has published nine books and numerous academic articles on maritime and naval history.
He made numerous appearances on TV and Radio as an expert contributor before he presented Nelson's Caribbean Hell-Hole, a 2012 film for BBC4 about the excavation of a mass burial site near the British naval dockyard at English Harbour in Antigua.
In 2013 he presented a three-part series for BBC4 on the cultural history of Shipwrecks and was one of the nine-man crew that recreated John Wesley Powell's epic uncharted 1869 voyage down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in Whitehall boats, that was filmed and broadcast by BBC2 in January 2014. In October 2014 he presented a three-part series on Castles for BBC4: Castles: Britain's Fortified History. In October 2015 he presented another three-part series for BBC4 'Britain's Outlaws: Highwaymen, Pirates & Rogues'. In 2016 the BBC broadcast 'The Silk Road', a series following Willis's journey from Xi'an to Venice. Willis's first series for National Geographic, Nazi Weird War Two will be broadcast in December 2016. The show in which Willis teams up with Robert Joe, an Urban Explorer, has been described as 'one of the oddest partnerships since Mulder and Scully.' In early 2017 Willis presented another three part series on the evolution of British arms and weaponry, in the same format as his 2014 series on castles, again for BBC4: "Sword, Musket and Machine Gun: Britain's Armed History".
His first book, Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: The Art of Sailing Warfare was based on his PhD thesis and was a revisionist study of the history of tactics in the Age of Sail. It explained in greater detail than ever before how battles were won or lost in the Age of Sail. His subsequent books include the Hearts of Oak Trilogy and the Fighting Ships series. In 2011 he was awarded the Society for Nautical Research's Anderson Medal for his biography of the naval battle The Glorious First of June, the final instalment of his Hearts of Oak Trilogy. In 2010 he made a discovery in the British Library of previously unpublished naval dispatches from the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars which became the subject of his 2013 book, In The Hour of Victory.Fighting at Sea in the Eighteenth Century: the Art of Sailing Warfare, Woodbridge, 2008 ISBN 1843833670
Shipwrecks: A History of Disasters at Sea London 2009 ISBN 1847247628
Fighting Ships from the Ancient World to 1750 London 2010 ISBN 1847248802
Fighting Ships 1750-1850 London 2007 ISBN 1847241719
Fighting Ships 1850-1950 London 2008 ISBN 1847244165
The Fighting Temeraire London 2009 ISBN 1847249981
The Admiral Benbow London 2010 ISBN 1849160368
The Glorious First of June, 2012 ISBN 1849160384
In the Hour of Victory: The Royal Navy at War in the Age of Nelson London 2013 ISBN 0857895702
The Struggle for Sea Power: A Naval History of the American Revolution New York and London 2015 ISBN 978-0-393-23992-8