Interview with Captain Blood Annotator Benerson Little on the subjects of the Black Sails television series and more!
It is with great pleasure that Treasure Light Press announces the acquisition of the James Speke Collection of historical documents associated with Caribbean piracy during the 1680s. The collection includes the original unpublished set of twenty-odd volumes of journals used by Rafael Sabatini as the factual basis for many of the adventures of his sanguinary hero, Captain Peter Blood.
Author Benerson Little, co-publisher and annotator at Treasure Light Press, has been searching for the papers, long thought lost, for more than a quarter century. Their rediscovery was the result of a combination of diligent research, serendipity, and thankfully thwarted skullduggery, including attempted forgeries and book-breaking, all of which was an adventure in itself.
The collection, long held by James Speke of Comerton, UK, disappeared after the amateur scholar’s death and passed, often unknowingly, through several hands, eventually ending up in an attic in a house in uptown New Orleans just off St. Charles Avenue, not far from the Columns Hotel.
For the moment we are limiting access to the papers and journals to ourselves, aided by an experienced conservator (thanks, Shell!) of antiquarian books and papers. At some point, however, given their obvious historical value, we may lend or donate the papers to a research institution for access by scholars, Sabatini fans, and the public at large, with emphasis on serious amateur historians who lack university credentials or access. Having been snubbed at times by some academic institutions ourselves, we’re sympathetic to the plight of amateur scholars producing quality research.
More importantly, per James Comerton’s wishes more than a century ago, we intend to publish the collection of journals, the most important of them in hardcover, the remainder digitally.
We’ll keep you advised on our progress with the collection. We look forward not only to further discoveries in the history of buccaneering, but also to learning how they shaped Sabatini’s famous novel, Captain Blood: His Odyssey.
Copyright Treasure Light Press LLC 2021. First posted April 1, 2021.
He rose at dawn and, fired with hope,
Shot o’er the seething harbor-bar,
And reach’d the ship and caught the rope,
And whistled to the morning star.
And while he whistled long and loud
He heard a fierce mermaiden cry,
‘O boy, tho’ thou art young and proud,
I see the place where thou wilt lie.
‘The sands and yeasty surges mix
In caves about the dreary bay,
And on they ribs the limpet sticks,
And in thy heart the scrawl shall play.’
‘Fool,’ he answer’d, ‘death is sure
To those that stay and those that roam,
But I will nevermore endure
To sit with empty hands at home.
‘My mother clings about my neck,
My sisters crying, “Stay for shame;”
My father raves of death and wreck,–
They are all to blame, they are all to blame.
‘God help me! save I take my part
Of danger on the roaring sea,
A devil rises in my heart,
Far worse than any death to me.’
–Alfred Lord Tennyson, “The Sailor Boy”