A man born with few advantages, William Dampier's single-minded determination to see the world bore all before it.
A self-taught geographer, hydrographer and navigator, Dampier was also a keen natural historian who showed his contemporaries then-unknown regions of the world, and vividly described the exotic creatures and plants that inhabited them without exaggeration.
Impressing the Admiralty with his book, A New Voyage round the World, Dampier was given command of the infamous Roebuck expedition and became the first Englishman to explore parts of Australia.
But Dampier's past reared its head when he employed acquaintances from his buccaneering days, and numerous problems beset him along the way; upon his eventual return Dampier was court-martialled for cruelty.
Though he lived and worked like a buccaneer Dampier filled in blank spaces on the map, and in pioneering the seaways he opened up the oceans for exploration, thus laying the foundations for the British Empire.
Although lauded in his day and going on to influence many in both literary and scientific spheres, Dampier died in obscurity and his name, associated with piracy, disappeared for many years.
Comprehensive and compellingly told, Anton Gill's biography charts the life and endeavours of William Dampier, his successes and his failings, and reinstates him into the pantheon of great explorers.
Anton Gill has been a freelance writer since 1984, specialising in European contemporary history but latterly branching out into historical fiction. He is the winner of the H H Wingate Award for non-fiction for 'The Journey Back From Hell'. He is also the author of 'Into Darkness', 'Dance Between the Flames' and 'An Honourable Defeat'. 'The Devil's Mariner' was his first biography.