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What Books Did Pirates Read?

Blackbeard and his pirates stole the ship The Queen Anne's Revenge in 1717 and wrecked it in South Carolina in 1718, but it was only found in 1996. Historians and conservators studying the wreckage have recovered most of the ship's 27 cannons. Inside one of the cannons was a wad of garbage that turned out to be small bits of paper. And some had readable text! So what were these pirates reading i their spare time?  

Work by conservationists from North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources shows that Blackbeard and his crew got a kick out of reading “voyage narratives”—a popular form of literature in the late 17th and early 18th century that chronicled the true accounts of maritime expeditions. Specifically, Blackbeard kept a copy of Edward Cooke’s A Voyage to the South Sea, and Round the World, Perform’d in the Years 1708, 1709, 1710 and 1711, detailing the British naval officer’s participation in a global expedition aboard the ships Duke and Dutchess.

Now we know there were books aboard Blackbeard's fleet, and that indicates that at least some of the crew were literate ...all from a few scraps of waterlogged trash. Read more about the find at Gizmodo.

(Image credit: Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)


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I seriously doubt they were _reading_ those books. If the fragments were found in the cannon barrels, they were most likely using the pages of the books for wadding to keep the cannonballs in place.
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