11 February, 2007

Alexander Selkirk, inspiration for "Robinson Crusoe", rescued from Fernandez Island. Today in history, 1709

On 12th February 1709 Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor, was rescued from Fernandez Island after 4 1/2 years as a castaway. He was probably the inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, first published in 1719.
Wikipedia has an entry on Selkirk. His ship, the privateer Cinque Ports, was not wrecked, but Selkirk suspected it was unseaworthy and would not last the rest of the voyage (he was right).
At first afraid of the wild beasts that might inhabit the interior of the island, he initially stayed near the beach but was pestered by mating sea lions. Further inland he found wild goats and other food, and was able to build shelter using carpenters' tools he had brought ashore from his ship.
After avoiding detection by two Spanish ships (they did not like privateers and would probably have strung him up , or worse), he was eventually rescued by another privateer, the Duke.
Those of a certain age like myself will recall the haunting main theme to the mid-1960s TV show Robinson Crusoe, compulsory viewing at the time with his adventures enthusiastically recreated in the garden the next day.
The good news is that you can still get the soundtrack album on Amazon, or Youtube...does this bring back any memories?

No comments: