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The Real Ancient Mariner. Robert Fowke [Paperback]

Robert Fowke
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2010
A biography of the original of Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, a sailor by the name of Simon Hatley. In 1719 Simon Hatley, a sailor on the Speedwell rounding Cape Horn, shot an albatross in a 'melancholy fit' and his scheming captain, George Shelvocke, wrote about the incident. Samuel Taylor Coleridge read Shelvocke's book seventy-eight years later and was inspired to write his famous poem The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere. Robert Fowke, working from contemporary documents, uncovers for the first time in over two hundred years the true identity of Simon Hatley/the Ancient Mariner and gives an enthralling account of his adventures. Simon Hatley sailed to the Pacific on two of the most dangerous privateering voyages of the early eighteenth century, was implicated in an act of piracy, twice imprisoned by the Inquisition and, in 1709, sailed on the same ship with Alexander Selkirk, the model for Robinson Crusoe, and William Dampier, mentioned in Gulliver's Travels as 'my cousin Dampier'. The models for the Ancient Mariner, Robinson Crusoe and, to some extent, Gulliver were once all shipmates together. The tale of Hatley's adventures illuminates events behind this strange literary coincidence. Contents: Preface Hatley: the discovery of Simon Hatley/the Ancient Mariner's identity, his childhood and family background. The Language of the Sea: about the extraordinary voyages and books of buccaneer authors and shipmates of Simon Hatley, such as William Dampier, how they exploited their credentials as seamen for literary and commercial gain. The Hand of the most High: how religious tension was reflected on the high sea, and the broader politcal/religious context behind early-eighteenth-century pirate, buccaneering and privateering voyages into the Pacific. The Voyage of the Cinque Ports: William Dampier's privateering expedition into the Pacific at the start of the War of the Spanish Succession, when Alexander Selkirk (Robinson Crusoe) was marooned on the Juan Fernandez Islands. The Voyage of the Duke and Duchess: Hatley sails as Third Mate, the rescue of Selkirk, capture of Guaykil, Hatley lost at sea. Good Dogs were Tories: return of the Duke and Duchess, formation of the South Sea Company, litigation and dissension. Hatley lost at sea. Lima and the Ancient Mariner: tortured by the Inquisition. Gentlelam Venturers: the voyage of the Speedwell. The Albatross: the shooting of the albatross and other adventures Crusoe and Gulliver: the South Sea Bubble bursts, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver and Shelvocke's book are written. Last information on Simon Hatley. Coleridge: the genesis of the poem. Bibliography Endnotes Index

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Travelbrief Publications (1 Feb 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 095483514X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0954835149
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 968,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and original research 1 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback
Did you ever imagine that the Ancient Mariner might be a real person? Nor did I, but after you've read this book you will know about Simon Hatley (his name) and a lot more about the privateers and ships who sailed the Pacific Ocean in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
The book starts with Mr Fowke in school, about to make a fool of himself by having learned the whole of the poem. And proceeds to explain who the Ancient Mariner was, where he came from, his family and early adventures. Apparently he really did shoot an albatross and, having seen them from a boat in New Zealand I can hardly imagine how he could bring himself to have done so. It wasn't for food as they taste horrible (I have been told! I didn't even have the courage to try mutton birds on Stewart Island). However, one thing you learn as you read the book is that being a sailor then meant a very hard life, one likely to end in slow death (from thirst and hunger), quicker death (from attacks or storms) or torture (by the Inquisition.) Who knows what any of us might do, marooned motionless in freezing fog?
One cannot fail to be impressed by the amount of meticulous and original research that has gone into the writing of this book. It contributes to our understanding of the poem and the hardships of life at sea and, is a good story at the same time. It would be wonderful if there could be a coda, if it was discovered what happened to Simon, but perhaps sailing into the sunset is how he should be left.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What would Coleridge have said? 2 Dec 2010
By Jane Baker VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
I live in the town said to have inspired Coleridge to write his famous poem so I began this account with a lot of scepticism since there is much evidence to support claims about Coleridge's inspiration - not least Wordsworth.
Fowke's extraordinary research produces a convincing tale of a very tough life for someone like Hatley who was born into the middle classes and therefore could have had a much more comfortable existence. Going from wealth to piracy is an enormous leap.

There is some wonderful background of the buccaneers who inspired other works of adventurers - Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels. Voyage literature became an important genre at this time and is very intertwined with Gothic Literature.
Hatley suffered desperately - lost at sea in the Galapagos, arrested, imprisoned in Ecuador and only saved from hanging by a kindly monk. Why did he do it? He could have stayed home in comfort - this is one of the fundamental questions about Hatley and the final, frustrating one of what happened to him. Very frustrating for the reader to be left hanging. But how much more frustrating it must be for Fowke to have lost his hero and be unable to find him and his fate.

The albatross was black apparently, not white as I had always imagined and shot in the marine desert near the Arctic Circle.
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