Sir Francis Drake by Julian Stafford Corbett
Slaver. Sailor. Privateer. Navigator. Legend.
Before he had died, Sir Francis Drake’s life had already become something of a fairy tale, an English parallel to David stood against his own Goliath.
Famed for “singeing the King of Spain’s beard” and his part in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, this period was but a single chapter in his extraordinary life.
At sea from a young age with his relative Sir John Hawkins, together they made the first English slaving voyages from Africa to the New World.
One of “Elizabeth’s Explorers” alongside Hawkins and Thomas Cavendish, Drake was the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe from 1577-80.
Even with a price on his head — he was feared and hated as a pirate by the Spanish — his reputation as an English hero did not protect him at home.
Viewed by some as having risen far above his station, Drake’s life was not restricted solely to ruffling feathers at sea: he was chosen a Mayor of Plymouth and would also sit in Parliament.
Personifying the era and written with dash and verve, ‘Sir Francis Drake’ is a swashbuckling naval biography about a man whose life was more remarkable than the legend it gave rise to.
Sir Julian Corbett (1854-1922) was a prominent naval historian and geo-strategist whose work shaped Royal Navy reforms in his day, and his theories of naval strategy in politics are still influential to the present. In addition to his well-received literary works, he lectured at the Royal Naval War College, Greenwich, and advised on naval policy during the First World War, eventually charged with writing the official naval history of the conflict.