What you probably do not know about William Dampier, privateer, pirate and explorer extraordinaire!
- His observations and analysis of natural history helped Charles Darwin’s and Alexander von Humboldt’s development of their theories,
- He made innovations in navigation technology that were studied by James Cook and Horatio Nelson.
- Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was inspired by accounts of real-life castaway Alexander Selkirk, a crew-member on Dampier’s voyages.
- His reports on breadfruit led to William Bligh’s ill-fated voyage in HMS Bounty.
- He is cited over a thousand times in the Oxford English Dictionary notably on words such as ‘barbecue’, ‘avocado’, ‘chopsticks’ and ‘sub-species’. That is not to say he coined the words, but his use of them in his writings is the first known example in English.
- His travel journals depicting Panama influenced the undertaking of the ill-fated Darien Scheme, leading to the Act of Union of 1707.
- His notes on the fauna and flora of north-western Australia were studied by naturalist and scientist Joseph Banks, who made further studies during the first voyage with Captain James Cook. This helped lead to the naming of and colonization of Botany Bay and the founding of modern Australia.
- He is mentioned in the Gabriel García Márquez short story The Last Voyage of the Ghost Ship.
- Jonathan Swift explicitly mentions Dampier in his Gulliver’s Travels as a mariner comparable to Lemuel Gulliver.
- He is believed to have influenced the writing of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.
Books by William Dampier
- A New Voyage Round the World, (1697)
- Voyages and Descriptions, (1699)
- A Supplement of the Voyage Round the World
- The Campeachy Voyages
- A Discourse of Winds
- A Voyage to New Holland, (Part 1 1703, Part 2 1709)