Tim Clayton

Tim Clayton was educated at Norwich School and Saint Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he read English. After some years working for the print collector Christopher Lennox-Boyd, during which time he compiled George Stubbs: the Complete Engraved Works (1989), he won a research fellowship at Worcester College, Oxford, where he wrote The English Print 1688-1802 (1997) and catalogued the print collection of George Clarke (1661-1736).

He is the award-winning and bestselling author of a number of books on naval and military history, including the winner of the 2008 Mounbatten Literary Award, Tars, and the critically acclaimed Trafalgar: the Men, the Battle, the Storm, described as ‘a landmark book’ by the Observer.

Tim is a specialist in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century history and culture, being a leading authority on the printed images of that period. He was co-curator of the exhibition Bonaparte and the British which was on show at the British Museum in 2015 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and author, with Sheila O’Connell, of the accompanying catalogue. He was an associate editor of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and has contributed to the Cambridge History of the Book, the Chicago History of the Map and the Cambridge History of the Napoleonic Wars.

He is an Honorary Research Fellow of the British Museum, an Associate Fellow of the University of East Anglia, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He is an experienced lecturer and has contributed to a variety of radio and television programmes and is prepared to act as a consultant to print collectors, auctioneers or dealers and advise on print cataloguing.

His latest book James Gillray: A Revolution in Satire is scheduled for publication by the Paul Mellon Centre on 8 November 2022. It describes the career of the greatest of visual satirists, James Gillray, who cast a sardonic eye on the ironies of the age of revolution, producing some enduringly hilarious prints.

James Gillray

A Revolution in Satire



James Gillray: A Revolution in Satire



Described by one contemporary as the ‘Prince of Caricatura’, James Gillray was late Georgian Britain’s funniest, most inventive and most celebrated graphic satirist. This definitive biographical study explores Gillray’s work through his friends, publishers, and collaborators, recreating the networks that invented satirical prints and examining the market for them. It reveals the tensions between artistic independence, financial necessity and the conflicting demands of patrons and self-appointed censors in a time of political and social turmoil.


Gillray’s first satires addressed the American war of Independence; during the libertine 1780s he was involved in the creation of previously unknown erotic prints as well as daring attacks on the royal family; later his prints reflected the anxious state of Britain as revolutionary France abolished both monarchy and church. During the long wars against Napoleon Gillray was recruited to work for various politicians, and the book examines their growing appreciation of the importance of public opinion and the role of propaganda in war.


Lavishly illustrated, and including previously unseen work, James Gillray: a Revolution in Satire describes in detail how the artist cast a sardonic eye on the rich ironies of the age of revolution, creating prints that continue to be celebrated for their technical brilliance, daring wit and enduring hilarity.

Academic Work

My wider current research interests include the print trade in the period 1700 to 1820, the production of political satire and propaganda and the military history of the Napoleonic wars.

Find out more about my recent research publications.

Tour Guide

I have guided tours for The Cultural Experience on the Napoleonic War in southern Spain in May 2017 focusing on Cadiz and the Battle of Trafalgar, and of the battlefields of Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo in June 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019.

I frequently lecture in an academic way on on visual print culture in the long eighteenth century and in a more popular way on prints, battles, gardens, Stubbs, Gillray, caricature, spies and propaganda in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and am available to speak at conferences, literary festivals and other events.

See me at forthcoming events in your area, or enquire about booking me.


I am a frequent contributor to radio and television programmes, and also act as a historical consultant to broadcasters.

Please see my list of recent broadcast work.



Tim’s work encompasses best selling military histories, art history, academic research and TV and radio features and appearances.

This Dark Business: the Secret War against Napoleon
In Art History / History
In History
Bonaparte and the British
In Art History / History
Sea Wolves
In History
Finest Hour
In History
In History
In History
The English Print
In Art History
George Stubbs: the Complete Engraved Works
In Art History
Diana – Story of a Princess
In Popular Culture


Reviews of Waterloo…

Saul David, Evening Standard

The best of the many books commemorating next year's 200th anniversary of Napoleon's final defeat at the Battle of Waterloo

Allan Mallinson, Spectator

Nuanced, broad, searching and elegant . . . the overall integrity of his scholarship is undeniable. The book may well become the most authoritative account of the four-day campaign.

Simon Heffer, New Statesman

Tim Clayton's book is the best overview of the meeting of the three armies.

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Stirring . . . a fabulous story, superbly told.

I encourage you to buy my books from my favourite bookshop, the Book Hive, in Norwich.