Early days in Ayrshire

Eric was born in Ayrshire, Scotland in 1949, the son of a coalminer. He was educated at Irvine Royal Academy – a distinction he shares with Edgar Allen Poe. 

Eric spent the early part of his youth roaming the hinterland and coast of his local area. Maturing, he took to climbing sea cliffs and undertaking hair-raising passages up the West Coast of Scotland on small old engineless wooden yachts.

Academic Career

Eric is a graduate of Strathclyde and Exeter Universities where he studied Scottish and Maritime History. His doctoral thesis provided the basis of his book – A Maritime History of Scotland (1650-1790). He has been widely published in learned journals and is a regular reviewer for a number of journals

As a founding member of the Early Scottish Maritime History Exchange (ESME), Eric is committed to widening the appeal of Scottish maritime history.

A firm believer in tapping local knowledge and tracing the relevance of the local experience to national events, Eric has continued to write for and lecture to local history associations and has recently co-authored a series of articles in the History Scotland and Scottish Local History Forum magazines. 

He is currently a member of the editorial board of the latter.

Prior to focusing on his writing and research projects, Eric has been Head of Faculty teaching – A Levels in History & Economics in a Secondary School and Deputy Head of a Special School for Autistic Children.

Eric is an Honorary Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Scottish Centre for the Diaspora, University of Edinburgh.


His interests cover a spectrum of subjects related to the Scots and the sea – from their involvement in selling children as indentured servants to the West Indies, to blockade running with Clyde paddle steamers for the Confederates. Eric is regularly invited to appear on TV and radio as a historical expert.

Research Projects include: Historical Associate for Lloyd’s Register of Shipping; Adviser to Historical Scotland on the Edinburgh Castle Vaults Exhibition; researcher for the Du Bois Institute (Harvard) Transatlantic Slavery Database; and research for Scottish Executive on the Bi-centennial anniversary of the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade. 

More details can be found in Commissions.


He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Jan. His loves include sailing, skiing and walking around Scotland’s marvellous mountains, beaches, lighthouses and graveyards.

Image of author Eric J Graham