Historical Fiction

BARBARA MCLENNAN has lived in Williamsburg since 2001. Formerly with the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, and former Vice President for Government Affairs of the Electronic Industries Association (consumer electronics), she has provided consulting services on investment, valuation, trade and tax issues.

Over the last several years, Dr. McLennan has served as a docent at Jamestown Settlement and at Historic Jamestown, the site of the original fort. She has also assisted the historian at Yorktown Victory Center in preparation for exhibits at the new museum of the American Revolution at Yorktown.

Since moving to Williamsburg, Dr. McLennan has taught courses on the U. S. budget in the Thomas Jefferson School of Public Policy, The College of William and Mary. She also serves as a writing consultant in the William and Mary MBA program (Raymond A. Mason School of Business). She also has held a commission as a member of the Governor of Virginia’s Asian Advisory Board on trade and investment. McLennan has also been a Board Member of the Chesapeake Bay Writers Organization.

Holding both Ph.D. and J.D. degrees, Barbara McLennan has published seven books and numerous magazine and journal articles on various political, historical and economic subjects.

Find out more on her website:


Blackbeard’s Legacy (2017)

The Wealth of Virginia (2015). Nominated for a literary award by the Library of Virginia, 2016.

The Wealth of Jamestown (2013). Accepted by the Virginia Historical Society into its research collection.

Reagan’s Mandate: Anecdotes from Inside Washington’s Iron Triangle (2009)

Comparative Politics and Public Policy (1980)

Comparative Political Systems: Developed and Developing Nations (1975)

Political Opposition and Dissent (editor and contributor) (1973)

Crime in Urban Society (1970)

Biggest literary influencers:

John Stuart Mill, Leo Tolstoy

Last book read:

Burr by Gore Vidal

Your favorite literary character:

Anna Karenina.  She is a modern woman in a world restricted by rules, bureaucracy and mindless men. Her solution, to take a lonely walk along a train track, is an act of defiance, not surrender.  For me, she stands for toughness and the ability to face reality.

Currently working on:

Me and Lymphoma, a biography about my last year.

Articles / Reviews:

Kirkus Review

Chesapeake Style Magazine


Review of The Wealth of Jamestown:

“Just finished reading “The Wealth of Jamestown”. One word: excellent! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book of historical fiction before. I really enjoyed it. Chapter one hooked me, and it was off to the races.
While there were a lot of characters, it was manageable. I never felt I was going under. The scholarship is evident, but not preachy. The author speeds the plot along. I am a very slow reader but found this a quick read for me (two days). Decent readers could read it in one day. I learned a lot about a cast of characters who shaped the town in which I live.
I thought including the Genealogy was great. It seems the author took most liberties with Miss Sarah…who goes from a possible half-wit to heroine. I suppose a woman who could say “no obey” at her wedding shouldn’t be underestimated. And I’ll never look at the Indian school again without thinking of the monster, James Blair, possibly taking liberties with the young Indian boys. One certainly doesn’t hear this side of the man when taking a tour of the Wren Building.
A fine read… I recommend it wholeheartedly. Well Done!”
J.K. Thompson, Williamsburg, Va, Amazon Reviewer

Review of The Wealth of Virginia:

“‘The Wealth of Virginia’ by Barbara McLennan, is the second book in a planned trilogy by the author. Sarah Harrison Blair is the sort of historical figure who demands fictional interpretation. Married to one of the founders of the College of William & Mary, the (as characterized in McLennan’s novel) loathsome James Blair, Sarah has the business acumen and independent streak to rival any of Colonial America’s male adventurers. She is neither shy with a pistol nor afraid to work alongside the laborers in her family’s tobacco fields if that’s what will get the job done. “Darlin’, welcome to Virginia justice,” she tells one man. “If you keep still, I won’t blow your head off.”)

The Colonial Virginia world in which Sarah operates needs people like her. It’s something of a free-for-all, with ineffectual governors coming and going, uncertainty about where to establish the colony’s capital (Williamsburg is being considered), and perpetual tensions and threats of fighting. Yet it’s also a place where democratic values are coalescing, a development made all the more evident in contrast to London, which Sarah and James visit. There, they encounter poverty and abuse all but directly caused by the old system. They also come across some truly rip-roaring excitement, complete with duels and romance.

McLennan writes astutely about the political anxieties of the era—the novel spans the years 1699 to 1710—and depicts a lively world of pirates and paramours. Some observations are made repetitiously. For instance, American Colonial women are more financially savvy than privileged British women, and aristocrats are profligate. And the good guys are exceedingly good, the bad exceedingly bad; several characters are all but evil villains.

Though the novel isn’t one of great nuance, it’s one of impressive scholarship. It will particularly appeal to readers interested in the early planning of Williamsburg.

An informative rendering of preRevolutionary America, with an inspiring female protagonist.”
— Kirkus Review

Review of Blackbeard’s Legacy:

“It’s not often you get to re-live a childhood fantasy and learn something new and exciting at the same time. But Barbara McLennan’s Blackbeard’s Legacy allows you to do just that! Her third in a series of critically acclaimed historical novels takes us once again into the drama-filled world of early Virginia and rivets us there with engaging facts and colorful dialogue, but this time riding the waves with Blackbeard.

Who among us as a child hadn’t fashioned themselves a pirate and sailed the bounding main in search of gold? Blackbeard’s Legacy is a chance to do it again, only this time with an adult’s appreciation of a great story, well told!

It was always with a tinge of sheepishness that I played the role of Blackbeard in childhood games because of the myth of him as a scoundrel and a rogue. What we learn in this exciting new telling of his bigger than life story is that Blackbeard is also a consummate entrepreneur and international trader who amassed a fleet of forty ships, and figuratively “crossed swords” with the leading bankers, politicians and judges of his day.

McLennan must have had fun writing about Blackbeard because it shines through on every page. Sign on as a hand on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, and sail through an exciting trip with this pirate of fame and fortune. It won’t make you a kid again, but it’s the next best thing!”

Dr. Rick Oliver, author, educator and entrepreneur (and reformed pirate!) is the author of eight books and more than fifty articles on technology and business. He is founder and CEO of American Sentinel University, Denver, Colorado.