Maine: An Encyclopedia

Greenlaw, Linda

(1962 – ) has written several bestselling books about her life as a commercial fisherman and the culture of fishing. Before Linda became a best selling author she was a commercial fisherman for seventeen years. As the Barnes & Noble biography puts it,

Growing up on coastal Maine, Linda Greenlaw was entranced by the ocean and everything that swam in it. When other kids got their first 10-speed bicycles, she got her first 10-horsepower outboard. Later, Greenlaw literally sailed her way through college, spending her summers as a cook and deck hand on a swordfishing boat. After graduating from Colby College with a double major in English and government, Greenlaw returned to the sailor’s life, becoming a ship captain when she was in her 20s and earning a reputation as “one of the best swordboat captains, period, on the East Coast” (in the words of Perfect Storm author Sebastian Junger).

As captain of the swordfish fishing boat, the Hannah Boden, Linda Greenlaw was the last person to come in contact with the Andrea Gail, the boat and crew lost in the great hurricane written about by Sebastian Junger in The Perfect Storm.

A Swordfish Harpoon Boat (NOAA photo)

A Swordfish Harpoon Boat (NOAA photo)

Junger’s book gave Greenlaw the opportunity to write about the true story of a typical swordfishing trip in The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey published in 1999. Her book gave details of the type of weather they endued, uncooperative fish, her shipmates, and exhausting 21 hour days. This book spent more then three months on the New York Times bestseller list.

Her next book was about family, community and going home after seventeen years. This book was called The Lobster Chronicles (2002). Here she describes her transition to a quieter life with her family on Isle au Haut, seven miles off the coast of Maine, a small town where everyone knows everyone. After giving up the exciting life of sword fishing, she became a captain of a two-person lobster boat. She documents this life change in her book.

All Fishermen are Liars (2004) followed and is a book of her fellow seamen’s storytelling. She put together a collection of different stories about life at sea. She also joined her mother to write an island cook book. Turning to mystery stories, Greenlaw created a heroine, Jane Bunker for Slipknot (2007) and Fishermen’s Bend (2008).

Greenlaw, who was born in Stamford, Connecticut, later moved to Topsham, Maine since her father got a job at nearby Bath Iron Works. She graduated from Mount Ararat High School in Topsham and is a 1983 Colby College graduate. She was awarded the U.S. Maritime Literature Award in 2003 and the New England Book Award for nonfiction in 2004. In between book tours Linda still goes home to Isle au Haut and works on her lobster boat. In response to a question in a 2008 for, she said

I’m definitely keeping my line in the water. I’ve been fishing for a long time and don’t have any plans to give it up. I’m still lobster fishing more or less part time and have 150 traps in the water now. My father takes care of my gear while I’m on tour. It keeps me fresh and lets me get out on the water and work off energy after a morning of writing.

Additional resources

Barnes & Noble. “Biography.” (accessed June 2. 2008)

Greenlaw, Linda. The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain’s Journey. Boston: Little Brown, 1999.

______________. Lobster Chronicles: Life on a Very Small Island. NY: Hyperion, 2004.

______________. All Fishermen are Liars: True Tales from the Dry Dock Bar. NY: Hyperion, 2004.

_______________ and Martha Greenlaw. Recipes from a Very Small Island. NY: Hyperion, 2005.

_______________. Slipknot. NY: Hyperion, 2007

_______________. Fishermen’s Bend. Hyperion, 2008

“Linda Greenlaw – Bio Interview.” at (accessed June 2, 2008).

NOAA Photo Library. (accessed June 2, 2008, search term: swordfish boat).

Substantial material contributed by Nicole Brassard, Bath, Maine, 2008.

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This entry was last modified: January 14, 2014 08:15 PM

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