The Life Of William Dampier
A rip-roaring swashbuckler about a forgotten 17th century English hero who, starting as a poor, piratical buccaneer, became a famed round-the-world explorer.
William Dampier, (1651-1715), was an English adventurer and pirate who preyed on ships on the Spanish Main. Poor and ill-educated and determined to make his fortune, he nonetheless had a passion for exploration and scientific research.
Dampier was the first to map the winds and currents of the world's oceans; led the first recorded party of Englishmen to set foot on Australia - 80 years before Cook; wrote about Galapagos wildlife 150 years before Darwin, who drew on Dampier's notes in his own work; was the first travel writer: A NEW VOYAGE AROUND THE WORLD was instant bestseller when it was published in 1697 - said to have influenced the novels of Swift and Defoe.
A man full of contradictions: he who achieved so much 'blew it' later in life, declining into scandal, failure and even farce. A unique man ahead of his time, he lived a large part of his life among pirates yet managed to preserve what Coleridge called his ‘exquisite refinement of mind’. A classic example of the best narrative history.
“Lively . . . extraordinary life - an unlikely combination of plundering and pioneering achievements in natural history and exploration.”
“Gripping and well-researched . . . An impressive achievement.”
“This long overdue biography wonderfully brings to life one of the most important explorers of the seventeenth century.”
Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea
“This eloquently enthusiastic biography, besides charting Dampier's astonishing achievements, offers fascinating information about his times.”
The Age, Melbourne