Pirates have a special place in the heart of all romantics, especially those with a taste for adventure and a healthy disregard for authority.
They are the ultimate rebels, the punk rockers of their day, thumbing their nose at social convention. Scandalous in the silks and brocade reserved exclusively for the upper class, pirates flaunted their wealth and sexuality, even allowing women to join, and occasionally lead, their crews.
Pirates thrilled and shocked their contemporaries, and very quickly legends sprang up around these fascinating rebels.
Trials of infamous pirates like Captain Kidd were reported in salacious (although not entirely accurate) detail in the eighteenth century scandal rags, and that’s where the pirate myths really began. So captivating were the stories woven around these men that, while awaiting death, renowned pirates were visited in their cells by dazzled women eager for a little pirate stardust …
By the 1830s, with an increasingly literate population eager for entertainment, the ‘penny-bloods’ began to dip into pirate legends from the Golden Age of Piracy. One of the earliest was The Flying Dutchman, published in 1839, telling the tale of the legendary ghost ship and designed to horrify, thrill and delight its eager readers.
And so began an industry. From The Pirates of Penzance and Treasure Island, to movies like Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean, our fascination with the outrageous, dangerous and rebellious pirate remains as enduring as ever.
Long may it continue, say I.
If you enjoyed Sally’s post on pirates, why not give her novel a go? The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk is now available in paperback from all good bookshops and stockists. Purchase it here:
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