A Talk about Somerset’s Buccaneer at the Museum of Somerset

Somerset buccaneer William Dampier is the subject of an evening talk at the Museum of Somerset on Tuesday 13 September.

The talk is part of the museum’s summer exhibition ‘Pirates! Fact and Fiction’ which explores pirates through history, in film and in literature. The talk will be given by Tom Mayberry, Chief Executive of the South West Heritage Trust. Dampier was born at East Coker in 1651.

William Dampier

Tom said: “Dampier was the first person to sail around the world three times and the first to explore parts of Australia. He was a brilliant navigator and an important naturalist. But most of his career was spent as a buccaneer, or pirate. The ships he sailed in often targeted Spanish settlements on the Pacific coast of South America.”

Dampier recorded his experiences in books which include New Voyage Round the World (1697). His vivid descriptions of distant places were very influential, inspiring literature such as Gulliver’s Travels and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Among words that Dampier introduced to the English language are ‘banana’, ‘barbecue’ and ‘chopsticks’.

Tom continued: “Dampier died in London in 1715, almost £700 in debt. But his reputation as a bold explorer and terror to the Spanish lived on.”

The ‘Pirates! Fact and Fiction’ exhibition is provided by Pop-Up Exhibitions and is suitable for all ages. In addition the museum has created a display about William Dampier, which includes his portrait, generously loaned by East Coker Village Hall Management Committee. It also features maps and illustrations from Dampier’s books and the register recording his baptism at East Coker.

‘Somerset’s Buccaneer: The Life and Adventures of William Dampier’ starts at 7.30 pm, tickets £9.50 with booking advised via Ticketsource at ticketsource.co.uk/themuseumofsomerset or 01823 255088.