The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner

The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner

  • Paperback
By (author) John Nicol , By (author) Tim Flannery , Volume editor Tim Flannery


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The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner is a recently rediscovered text that vividly renders the unforgettable story of a man whom history had nearly forgotten. In his many voyages, the Scottish-born sailor John Nicol twice circumnavigated the globe, visiting every inhabited continent. He participated in many of the greatest events of exploration and adventure in the 18th century. He battled pirates, traded with Native Americans and fought for the British navy in the American and French Revolutions; he also travelled on the first female convict ship to Australia, was entertained in Hawaii by the king's court days after the murder of Captain James Cook, and witnessed the horrors of the slave system in Jamaica. Above all, this is a riveting memoir of an ordinary man's extraordinary life, told with an honesty and humility that is beguiling.

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  • Paperback | 208 pages
  • 127 x 195.58 x 15.24mm | 158.76g
  • 27 Dec 2000
  • Canongate Books Ltd
  • Edinburgh
  • New edition
  • Main
  • map, port.
  • 1841950912
  • 9781841950914
  • 189,566

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Author Information

Tim Flannery is a celebrated Australian mammalogist, palaeontologist and global warming activist. Flannery was named Australian of the Year in 2007 and is presently an adjunct professor at Macquarie University. He edited and introduced Canongate's internationally acclaimed edition of an eighteenth-century sailor's account of circumnavigating the globe (twice!), The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner, published in 2000.

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Review quote

* fascination reading. Historical Novels Review * Nicol's simply told yet evocative observations are full of humanity...His power of recollection is remarkable. Daily Telegraph * A knockout ... Nicol is a sunny, charming, highly observant guide and a first-rate story-teller. Sunday Herald * a good read for anyone interested in life at sea in a different age Yachting Monthly * A remarkable record of our modern world in embryo. -- Tim Flannery, explorer, scientist and author of HERE ON EARTH Geographical

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Review text

A driving wish for romance and adventure, which seemed unlikely to be satisfied at home in 18th century Edinburgh, persuaded young John Nicol to go to sea. There he found all the adventure he could have desired. He crewed on whalers, traded to the South Pacific and China at a time when their ancient cultures were still little affected by Europeans. The ships in which he served fought privateers and under Nelson's command were engaged in the battle of Aboukir Bay, the victory that ended Napoleon's dream of an Egyptian Empire. Twice he circumnavigated the globe. As a seaman on a voyage to Botany Bay, he fell deeply in love with a female convict, an affair which affected him profoundly for the rest of his life. The story, much of which can be verified from other sources, was first published in 1822. It was written from Nicol's dictation as a means of obtaining for the old sailor the pension to which he was entitled. It is an account told with wonderfully eloquent simplicity and all the more vivid and convincing for being devoid of literary flourishes. It convinced the Lords of the Admiralty; Nicol got his pension and we have as a result an unforgettable portrait of a remarkable man and his times. (Kirkus UK)

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