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William Dampier, (1651-1715), was an English adventurer and pirate who preyed on ships on the Spanish Main. Poor and ill-educated and determined to make his fortune, he nonetheless had a passion for exploration and scientific research.Dampier was the first to map the winds and currents of the world’s oceans; led the first recorded party of Englishmen to set foot on Australia – 80 years before Cook; wrote about Galapagos wildlife 150 years before Darwin, who drew on Dampier’s notes in his own work; was the first travel writer- A NEW VOYAGE AROUND THE WORLD was instant bestseller when it was published in 1697 – said to have influenced the novels of Swift and Defoe.A man full of contradictions- he who achieved so much ‘blew it’ later in life, declining into scandal, failure and even farce. A unique man ahead of his time, he lived a large part of his life among pirates yet managed to preserve what Coleridge called his ‘exquisite refinement of mind’. A classic example of the best narrative history.
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