TOP 5 FRIDAY: Professional Pirates
When I was younger, I wanted to be a 17th century pirate when I grew up (to the point that when there was a ‘pirates and princesses’ day at school, I was the only female pirate). As I got a bit older it dawned on me that a pirate’s life was not for me, being a buccaneer of the high seas was sadly not a plausible career option, and I’d be much better off reading about them instead. Here’s my pick of the best swashbucklers in literature … AHOY!
1. Long John Silver from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The original pirate. Complete with parrot, wooden leg and fancy tricorne, Long John is sneaky, selfish and cunning – and yet there’s something somewhat redeemable about him. Perhaps it’s his fondness for Jim – originally taking him under his wing and stopping a bunch of angry pirates from killing him – or perhaps it’s that he was immortalised by Tim Curry in what is potentially the greatest children’s film ever made, Muppet Treasure Island. Honestly. If you haven’t seen it, you really are missing out. It’s a travesty that it wasn’t Oscar-nominated.
Jocelyn is the person that we all wanted to be at age twelve, surely? Not content with her grandfather’s wishes for her to go to finishing school, Jocelyn escapes to avenge her father’s death (who met his untimely demise at the jaws of the Neverland crocodile – you know the story) and single-handedly captains her own ship (and amasses her own crew) as a pre-teen. She’s loyal, strong, witty, and pretty handy with a sword. See, just because your dad’s a baddie doesn’t mean you have to be one too (are you taking notes, Malfoy?).
3. Captain Shakespeare from Stardust by Neil Gaiman
Although Stardust is an absolutely perfect novel and one of my all-time faves, it sadly does not include the incredible character that is Shakespeare. But fear not! Legend has it that Neil Gaiman dreamed up Robert de Niro’s feather boa-wearing dancing pirate himself to make the film a bit different to the book. Shakespeare’s also the only character on this list who’s a pirate of the air rather than the sea – pretty damn cool.
4. The Ablegares from Lorali by Laura Dockrill
Ah (or should it be arrr?), the bad boys of the sea. The Ablegares pull no punches, being ruthless where they need to be, kind when they feel like it, and loyal to the very end. They also get a merit for being the most stylish pirates on this list, complete with braces, crisp white shirts and always a comb on their person (*sighs*). Plus, their ship is a floating house. Amazing.
5. The Pirate Captain from The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists by Gideon Defoe
Hapless, incompetent and yet hugely respected by his crew, The Pirate Captain is like that friend who you can’t trust to turn up on time but keep around because their heart is very much in the right place. He’s not really qualified to be a pirate, let alone a captain, and really it’s his ridiculously luxurious beard that keeps him in a job – but he’s a nice guy, and that’s what counts (although it’s likely he’s very much in the wrong occupation).
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