1956 in Boston, Mass.


Linden Elementary School and Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, Pa.; BA in English from Brown University in Providence, RI, and an MA in America Literature from Duke University in Durham, NC


Philbrick was Brown’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978; that year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, RI; today he and his wife Melissa sail their Beetle Cat Clio and their Kirby 38 yawl Phebe in the waters surrounding Nantucket Island.


Melissa Douthart Philbrick, who is Executive Director of Remain Nantucket. They have two grown children Jennie and Ethan.


After grad school, Philbrick worked for four years at Sailing World magazine; was a freelancer for a number of years, during which time he wrote/edited several sailing books, including Yaahting: A Parody (1984), for which he was the editor-in-chief; during this time he was also the primary caregiver for his two children. After moving to Nantucket in 1986, he became interested in the history of the island and wrote Away Off Shore: Nantucket Island and Its People, which was released in a revised and updated edition by Viking in April, 2011. He was offered the opportunity to start the Egan Maritime Institute in 1995, and in 2000 Viking published In the Heart of the Sea, followed by Sea of Glory in 2003, Mayflower in 2006, and The Last Stand in 2010. Philbrick’s Why Read Moby-Dick? was released by Viking in October 2011. His latest book, Bunker Hill:  A City, a Siege, a Revolution will be released by Viking on April 30, 2013.

Awards and Honors

In the Heart of the Sea won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book was the basis for a 2001 Dateline special on NBC written by Geoff Stephens as well as the 2010 2-hour PBS American Experience film “Into the Deep” by Ric Burns.

Revenge of the Whale won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

Sea of Glory won the Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and the Albion-Monroe Award from the National Maritime Historical Society.

Mayflower was a finalist for both the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in History and the Los Angeles Times Book Award and was winner of the Massachusetts Book Award for nonfiction.

The Last Stand was named a New York Times Notable book, a 2010 Montana Book Award Honor Book, and a 2011 ALA Notable Book, and was the basis for the 2-hour PBS American Experience film “Custer’s Last Stand” by Stephen Ives.

Why Read Moby-Dick? was a finalist for the New England Society Book Award and was named to the 2012 Listen List for Outstanding Audiobook Narration from the Reference and User Services Association, a division of the ALA.

Philbrick has also received the Byrne Waterman Award from the Kendall Whaling Museum, the Samuel Eliot Morison Award for distinguished service from the USS Constitution Museum, the Nathaniel Bowditch Award from the American Merchant Marine Museum, the William Bradford Award from the Pilgrim Society, the Boston History Award from the Bostonian Society, and the New England Book Award from the New England Independent Booksellers Association. He was named the 2011 Cushing Orator by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and has an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, where he delivered the commencement address in 2009.

Feature film rights have been optioned for both In the Heart of the Sea and Bunker Hill.

Video Interview With Nat:

Nat on what libraries mean to him