An Ocean of Pirate Possibilites

Wednesday, July 20th – Alli Boyer, Youth Services

Ahoy, mateys! The library’s summer theme is Oceans of Possibilities and one of my favorite ocean creatures just so happens to be the vicious, bloodthirsty pirate! Now, ye landlubbers might think o’ pirates as lawless mercenaries without a soul, but that’s not really true. In fact, there are a lot of things about pirates that may come as a surprise to ye, so batten down the hatches and let’s get to it!

Let’s start with my favorite pirate fact: each pirate ship had its own set of rules and codes to which the crew agreed to sail on that ship. The first recorded set of rules appeared around the 1660s, and historians have since compiled almost nine full sets of Pirates Code from different captains/ships.  If you’d like to explore the codes in-depth, check out this link.  For now, here are the rules I found most interesting:

* Every crew member has a vote in affairs – pirates were all about proper democracy!
* Every crew member has an equal title to receive a share of treasure/goods/clothing/food – pirates saw some benefits of socialism!
* The crew will abide by an 8 pm curfew – pirates recognized the importance of getting good sleep!
* Any man that meddles with a woman without her consent shall suffer present death – pirates understood consent!

There is one rule most pirate ships included in their personal code that they often actually broke: no women allowed on a ship – especially as part of the crew.  Despite this “rule”, there were several famous women who either disguised themselves as men OR just ran their own ships. Here are a few accomplished women pirates:              
* Anne Bonny – business and romantic partner of pirate Calico Jack Rackham and Mary Read, commonly referred to as the most famous female pirate in history
* Cheng I Sao – took over her husband’s pirate career after his death, controlled a fleet consisting of 40,000 – 60,000 pirates
* Grace O’Malley – referred to as the Pirate Queen of Ireland, she ran a castle as well as a pirate fleet
* Mary Read –  partner of Anne Bonny and Calico Jack Rackham, captured and convicted during the Golden Age of Piracy


There’s so much more to learn and explore about the Golden Age of Piracy, piracy in America, and even modern-day piracy.  If you’re interested in checking out some pirate books, here’s a sample of what you can find at the Cape Girardeau Public Library!

Pirate Picture Books:
Pirate Jack Gets Dressed by Nancy Day
Pirates Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
Pirate Stew by Neil Gaiman
Argh, Mustache Baby By Bridget Heos
Pirate Youth/Teen Chapter Books:
A Clash of Steel by C.B. Lee
Lintang and the Pirate Queen by Tamara Moss
Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman
Race to the Bottom of the Sea by Lindsay Eager
Adult Fiction:
Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Bloody Black Flag by Steve Goble
The Tears of Dark Water by Corban Addison
Adult Nonfiction:
The Golden Age of Piracy by Benerson Little
The Pirate World by Angus Konstam
Black Flags, Blue Waters by Eric Dolan
Born to Be Hanged by Keith Thomson


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