ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on July 17, 2011

Among the books that have stirred the imagination of generations of adolescents, the story of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe would certainly figure in the list. The real inspiration for Defoe to write the novel was the adventures of a privateer called Alexander Selkirk.

Selkirk was born in Largo, Fife in the year 1676 and was the son of a prosperous leather tanner. Though a precocious boy he had a bad temper and in dispute he was summoned by church elders to reprimand him for indecent behavior. To escape this he ran away from home and became a sailor. His mathematical skills helped him become a navigator and very soon he was a privateer.

Privateers were really pirates, the only difference being that they had the sanction of the English government to prey on Spanish and Portuguese ships in the Pacific ocean. He was soon the first mate of ‘Cinque Ports’ captained by Charles Pickering and commanded by William Dampier in the accompanying ship ‘Saint George’.

The 1703 expedition to the Pacific ran into trouble. Not only did the privateers’ plan fail, but there was also an outbreak of scurvy. Many died and Selkirk doubted the seaworthiness of ‘Cinque Ports’. His assessment was correct, because one month later the ship sank. But before tragedy struck, Selkirk opted to be put ashore and in September 1704 he was castaway on an uninhabited island 400 miles off the coast of Chile.

He is said to have took with him a few clothes, bedding, a musket, some tools and the Bible. When initial hopes of a quick rescue evaporated he gradually settled down in a habitat which had only goats, cats and rats for company. Two years later he thought rescue was at hand, when two ships came to the island for replenishing water. He soon realized his mistake when he found that they were Spanish ships and he hid until the ships left the island’s shores. He had to wait for another two years for being rescued, and surprisingly William Dampier happened to be the sailing master. He had been castaway at Juan Fernandez for exactly four years and four months.

In 1717 he returned to Largo and for a while he was supposed to have had a love affair with one Sophia Bruce who happened to be a dairy maid. But then later he married a widowed innkeeper in Plymouth but his wanderlust never left him. In 1721 on board the Royal Navy ship Weymouth he died of yellow fever and was buried at sea off coast of Africa.

The adventures of Alexander Selkirk made him a legendary figure. But three hundred years later archaeologists have found evidence of his existence in the lonely island of Juan Fernandez. In an article in Post-Medieval Archaeology about excavations in the Argentinean island of Agueas Buenas (470km off the coast of Chile) evidences were found of a European occupant. Dr David Caldwell, National Museums Scotland who led the dig believes that the evidences found corroborate the claims made by Alexander Selkirk.


Submit a Comment

  • ram_m profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from India

    Thank you Trish_M

  • Trish_M profile image

    Tricia Mason 

    7 years ago from The English Midlands

    Hi :)

    A very interesting history! :)


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)