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Pirate Tales

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This literary anthology recalls the exploits of Long John Silver, Henry Morgan, and those inspired by piracy’s Golden Age. Retelling classics of adventure literature, from Robinson Crusoe to The Mysterious Island, with captivating illustrations from artists such as Howard Pyle and N. C. Wyeth, this visual delight is also a pleasure to read.
Hardcover, quarter-bound8.1 x 10.1 in.3.51 lb392 pages

“Wyeth’s pirate paintings transport the viewer into a world of imagination where larger-than-life figures like Blackbeard and Captain Morgan rule the seas and the next adventure is always just beyond the horizon.”

Pirate Tales

Pirate Tales


Legends of the High Seas

A voyage through the world of piracy in literature and illustration

In the imaginations of young and old alike, the word “pirate” resonates with spine-tingling fear and swashbuckling adventure. Over centuries, our cultural landscape has been populated by a host of famous real and fictional figures immortalized in literature and art: Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, with his fearsome reputation for cruelty; Henry ‘Bloody’ Morgan, whose treasure is still sought today; and of course Long John Silver, the archetypal anti-hero of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (1885).

Pirate Tales gathers a treasure trove of excerpts from literary works inspired by the historical pirates of the 16th and 17th centuries. The edition begins with Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), a book containing all the trappings of pirate lore – shipwrecks, mutineers, undiscovered islands, and talking parrots – and one which influenced hundreds of works of adventure fiction, not least Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island (1871). The third nerve-jangling novel is Treasure Island, without which no book on pirates would be complete, thanks to its unforgettable additions to the pirate canon: Blind Pew, Billy Bones, the black spot, wooden legs and Long John Silver. Extracts from Howard Pyle’s posthumously published Book of Pirates (1921) round off the edition.

The tales are enlivened by arresting illustrations at every turn, including those by artists from the Brandywine School such as Pyle, the undisputed father of pirate illustration, and his students N. C. Wyeth and Frank Schoonover. This edition features a number of original artworks by these illustrators, drawn from private collections, as well as contributions by other artists from illustration’s so-called “Golden Age” of the late 19th and early 20th century. Scene-setting vignettes for each story were executed by the illustrator Michael Custode.

A comprehensive introduction on historical pirates and their influence on these literary texts is provided by Robert E. and Jill P. May, in addition to authoritative commentaries on each text and biographies of the featured authors and illustrators. Evoking high seas, flashing blades, and maritime crime, Pirate Tales offers a tantalizing blend of fiction, history, and illustration.

The illustrator

Michael Custode is a Canadian artist known for his evocative, black-and-white illustrations that imitate woodcut engravings. A graduate of the Ontario College of Art in 1986, he worked as a graphic designer before turning to illustration. His work has been reproduced in The Globe and Mail, The Washington Post, and Sports Illustrated, and recognized with awards from the Art Directors Club of Toronto and Advertising and Design Association of Ottawa.

The authors

Robert E. and Jill P. May were career-long professors at Purdue University, Indiana, prior to their retirements. Robert May is an internationally recognized scholar of the “filibusters,” nineteenth-century adventurers who invaded foreign territory in private and illegal military expeditions. Jill May's research, writing, and teaching have illuminated multiculturalism in children’s literature. They are the co-authors of Howard Pyle: Imagining an American School of Art (2011).

Pirate Tales
Hardcover, quarter-bound20.5 x 25.6 cm1.59 kg392 pages

ISBN 978-3-8365-8476-0

Edition: English

ISBN 978-3-8365-8478-4

Edition: French

ISBN 978-3-8365-8479-1

Edition: Spanish
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