Top 10 Fictional Pirates!

Cornish Smuggling Stories at Pirate's Quest Newquay

To celebrate World Book Day 2020, the crew of Pirate’s Quest have compiled a list of their ten favourite fictional pirates, from both literature, film and television. Here’s the countdown:

10. Jack Shandy – There are many tales of piracy, and more than a few contain pirates called Jack. The novel ‘On Stranger Tides’ by Tim Powers is one of them. Providing the inspiration for the fourth instalment of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the novel’s protagonist is Jack Shandy (replaced by Jack Sparrow in the film adaptation). Jack Shandy begins the tale as puppeteer, John Chandagnac – his name is later changed by the pirate crew that enrol him… and we think they made a mighty fine choice.

9. Captain Nemo – Not all pirates sails above the waves – classic literary anti-hero, Captain Nemo travels the sea in his submarine, the Nautilus. Not only a pirate, but also a scientific genius, Nemo appears in numerous novels by the brilliant Victorian writer Jules Verne. These include ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea’ and ‘The Mysterious Island’.

8. Captain Shakespeare – Stardust is an illustrated fantasy novel written by Neil Gaimen. For the film adaptation of this story, a new character was introduced to the tale named after one of the world’s most famous writers – Captain Shakespeare. Superbly portrayed by Robert De Niro, Shakespeare travels through this fantasy world in his flying ship, the Caspartine.

7. Captain Pugwash – ‘Lolloping landlubbers!’ The lovable Captain Horatio Pugwash first appeared in a 1950 issue of British comic, The Eagle. By 1957 he had earned himself his own animated TV show documenting his adventures at sea. His creator John Ryan went on to write over 20 books features Captain Pugwash as the main character.

6. Captain Barbossa – Although not originating from a book, it’s difficult to compile a list of fictional pirates without mentioning a couple of the swashbucklers from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films. Hector Barbossa (played by the talented Geoffrey Rush) first appears in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and is one of the only characters to feature in every one of the subsequent movies. His popularity as an authentic sea dog has led to his inclusion in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland.

5. The Pirate Captain – Quite a few of the swashbucklers in this list are shown to be pretty incompetent buccaneers, saved from disaster by their more talented crewmates, but perhaps the most incompetent is The Pirate Captain, from Gideon Defoe’s quirky series of books, ‘The Pirates!’. The first book, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, was made into a stop-motion film in 2012 by the awesome Aardman Animation team.

4. Morgan Adams – The only female to feature in the list is Morgan Adams. A fiery female played by Geena Davis in the 1995 pirate movie ‘Cutthroat Island’. Although the film flopped at the box office, the character of Morgan Adams is one of the highlights in the story – sharing the same characteristics as many of the real female pirates who sailed during the Golden Age.

3. Captain Jack Sparrow – The second character in this countdown from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is, unsurprisingly, the swaggering Captain Jack Sparrow (portrayed by Johnny Depp). He won the hearts of cinema goers in The Curse of the Black Pearl, and has entertained us ever since with his wit, charm, and trickery. It is said that Jack Sparrow was originally based of famous pirate Captain Calico Jack.

2. Captain Hook – When you mention the word ‘pirate’, most people immediately think of ‘hooks for hands’ and ‘peg-legs’. Well, the two buccaneers that hold our top two spots are responsible for each of those stereotypes. One of the most popular villains in literary history, is the dashing and deceitful Captain James Hook. Featured in the stories of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie, Hook has terrified and fascinated readers for over 100 years. Gaining his name from the iron hook that replaced his severed hand, Captain Hook is said to have only two fears in life – the sight of his own blood, and the crocodile responsible for eating his hand.

1. Long John Silver – At the top of our list is the godfather of all fictional pirates – the incredible Long John Silver. Robert Louis Stevenson’s epic pirate novel, Treasure Island is the source of many popular pirate myths that exist today – walking the plank, treasure maps, and the black spot. In addition, Long John Silver has become the ultimate, stereotypical buccaneer. With a peg-leg, and parrot on shoulder, Long John Silver is instantly recognisable – in particular, Robert Newton’s portrayal in the 1950 movie version, with his thick West Country accent and his striking physical presence. There was no doubt among the crew, that Long John Silver is our favourite fictional pirate.

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