Alexander Selkirk

Contents

Alexander Selkirk / Other

  • Name  : Selkirk
  • Born  : 1676
  • Died  : 1721
  • Category  : Other
  • Finest Moment : Sighting the ship which rescued him

The inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Selkirk was born the son of a cobbler in the Fife coastal village of Largo, in 1676. After several brushes with the law, he ran away to sea in 1695. He joined up with William Dampier, the explorer turned buccaneer, and by 1703 he was sailing master of the privateer Cinque Ports.

The next year, having quarrelled with the captain, he requested to be put ashore on a South Pacific island belonging to the Juan Fernandez group, the uninhabited Mas a Tierra island. This is some 400 miles (640km) off the coast of Chile. Here, he lived alone for four years and four months, before being rescued in 1709 by another privateer, under the command of Woodes Rogers.

He returned to Largo in 1712, and the same year Rogers published Cruising Voyage Round the World, which included a description of Selkirk's life on the island. Another account was published in 1713 by the essayist Richard Steele. These accounts prompted Daniel Defoe to write the now classic Robinson Crusoe, first published in 1719.

Alexander Selkirk returned to sea, where he died on 12 December 1721, a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

Search for Great Scots

Search By Category

 Print  Email