by Mimi Sebastian
In writing my Sea Rover’s Passion series, I’ve researched both nonfictional and fictional pirates. It’s the best part of writing the series! On my Sea Rovers Passion website, I explain how the real life pirate captain Black Sam Bellamy inspired my hero Boone Wilder in Devil’s Island. Black Sam was often called the prince of pirates, a Robin Hood type, who strove to even out the playing field. While his brief but adventurous life was cut short by a storm off the coast of New England in 1717, just after he scored an amazing treasure and ship, he was one of the more successful pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy. Barry Clifford, professional treasure hunter, described Black Sam Bellamy as equal parts hero, freedom fighter, and likable scoundrel. My kind of pirate. Leader of the expedition Whydah, Clifford located Bellamy’s ship wreck in the 1990s and found an amazing trove of treasure and artifacts, helping to fill in many of the gaps about piracy.
While Bellamy is my favorite real pirate, turning to fictional swashbucklers, I have to include the characters from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Its undeniable Johnny Depp created a revolutionary character in Jack Sparrow, and while I love Sparrow, I also loved Geoffrey Rush as Barbossa. He reminded me of Long John Silver from the 1950s Treasure Island movie. Very salty. Rush eats up the screen every time Barbossa strides on deck. Speaking of Treasure Island, the on screen portrayals of Captain Flint, Long John Silver, Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham, and Charles Vane on Black Sails have been nothing short of fascinating. The show runners successfully melded the real and fictional pirates while also respecting some of the real history of the New Providence pirates (Bonny, Rackham, Vane).
Errol Flynn swung from the ratlines in Captain Blood in 1935, and was the first pirate to capture my imagination. Blood’s back story was interesting. A doctor who was accused of a crime he didn’t commit, and sent to Jamaica to toil as an indentured servant. I recently re-watched Captain Blood and was pleasantly surprised at the decent production values and portrayal of pirate life, in the sense that they showed the crew playing a role in decision-making. It wasn’t perfect, but for the time period, when movies tended to be more melodramatic, good. But the romance took center stage and I understand why he and Olivia de Havilland made so many movies together. They had great chemistry.
Hook from Once Upon a Time! Like Sparrow, Hook works the eye shadow. Hook killed it during the Peter Pan season. He won over Charming and worked on Emma with redeeming deeds, penetrating gazes, and poignant insights. And Colin O’Donoghue rocks the part.
Speaking of…I can’t leave out the Dread Pirate Roberts. In fact Hook, in Once Upon a Time, pays homage to the Princess Bride, by quoting lines like “as you wish”. I was never a fan of Buttercup, too wishy washy for me, but give me Dread Roberts any day!
Who are some of your favorite pirates?