This is far from a complete bibliography of Piracy and is not intended to be one. Instead it is a list of books that I have found useful and used to prepare this site. The first part is annotated, that is I have made comments about the books. At the bottom you will find a more inclusive list of books, I found useful while putting this page together.
Works considered Historical in nature are considered fact, but do not be fooled into believing they are 100% true. Most of what is told about pirates has been distorted through the imagination of generations of story tellers, known as Historians (I know, I'm one of them!). On occasion, some historians distort information in order to present a certain view. What we have is a written history of the lore of piracy. While most Historians make every effort to be as accurate as possible, they must rely on primary and secondary sources that are, at times suspect. At this point they may be led to specualte on what is probable and what is just the fancy of an overactive imagination. History, even when it is 400-600 years old continuously gets revised and reviewed.
Works considered to be fiction were knowingly written as fiction and are sold as fiction. Amazingly enough you may find quite a bit of factual information floating around in these books of fiction. This is because the best fiction is written by people who have good background on the history of the subject and draw from these facts to tell a story. For instance, Robert Louis Stevenson drew heavily on Defoe/Johnson and his own ocean going voyages to add realism to his book.
Works presented as facts
The following books are considered factual. However, some of the works are first hand accounts or biographies so they are only as factual as the biographer or the person reporting the first hand account. Some of the sources are the only first hand account of an event which has then been repeated by other authors without ever having a corroberating evidence presented. This is the nature of pirate history.
Black, Clinton Vane de Brosse, 1918
Pirates Of The West Indies
New York : Cambridge University Press, 1989.
136 p. : ill., maps ; 23 cm.
Bibliography: p. 130-131.
Written more or less for a Juvenile audience, the book is none the less quite entertaining and informative. Some nice illustrations, in the edition i have, however, I'm not crazy about the attempt to colorize the old wood block prints.
Bradlee, Francis Boardman Crowninshield, 1881
Piracy In The West Indies And Its Suppression
Bradlee. New York, Library Editions, 1970.
220 p. illus. 24 cm. (American maritime history)
Reprint of 1923 ed.
Wonderful little book. Obviously, it is inaccurate to some degree as more research has been done, but still worth reading.
Pirates of the Spanish Main
Publication: New York, American Heritage Pub. Co.; book trade distribution by Golden Press 1961
Another book for the teenager. It a quick read, and has some questionable facts, as do most of the books on piracy. it has quite a few early wood block illustrations plus some contemporary drawings. The book also contains maps of the Spanish Main..
Under The Black Flag
(the romance, and the reality of life among the pirates)
San Diego : Harcourt Brace,
1st Harvest ed.
xxi, 296 p. : p., ill., maps ;, 24 cm.
ISBN: 0156005492 (pbk.)
NOTE: Fairly easy to read book. compares both the pirates of the movies and literature with the real deal. cordingly is a Pirate expert and former curator of the National Maritime Museum in London. The book is introductory in nature but sheds a lot of light on piracy in the Golden Age. do not confuse this book with several others with a similar title.
Exquemelin, A. O. (Alexandre Olivier)
The Buccaneers of America — trans;(Americaensche zee-roovers. English)
(a true account of the most remarkable assaults committed by the English and French buccaneers against the Spaniards in America)
Written by A.O. Exquemelin, one of the buccaneers who was present at those tragedies.
Santo Domingo : Corripio, (1981).
194 p. : ill., facsims., maps, ports. ; 23 cm.
The illustrations are reproduced from the first edition of De Americaensche Zee-Roovers, Amsterdam, 1678, by kind permission of the Trustees of the British Museum.
First published in Dutch in Amsterdam, 1678 under the title, De Americaensche zee-roovers.
Considered one of the earliest pirate "bibles". A must read.
Gosse, Philip, 1879-1959
The History Of Piracy
New York : Tudor
Publishing, 1934, c1932.
xiv, 349 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
A nice, easy to read book. Goes well with the book below.
Gosse, Philip, 1879-1959
The Pirates' Who's Who
(Giving Particulars of the Lives & Deaths of the Pirates & Buccaneers)
A wonderful little book. In some case, nothing more is given than when the pirate was hanged, in othe rcase, a few pages are given. All in all an enjoyable read.
London, Dulau and Company
Johnson Charles, Capt.
A General History of the Pyrates
(from their first rise and settlement in the island of Providence, to the present time)
With the remarkable actions and adventures of the two female pyrates Mary Read and Anne Bonny ... To which is added, a short abstract of the statute and civil law, in relation to pyracy. By Captain Charles Johnson. 4th ed. London, Printed for, and sold by T. Woodward, 1726-(1728). 2 v. engr. plates, 2 fold maps. 20 cm.
Vol. 2 has title: The history of the pyrates, containing the lives of Captain Misson (and others) ... and their several crews. Intermix'd with a description of Magadoxa in Ethiopia ... taken from Captain Beavis's Journal. London, Printed and sold by T. Woodward (1728)
The fold. map in v.2 is that of "the Middle Part of America", withan inset of the Isles of Cape Verd. Vol.1 and v.2, cop.2 have book-plates of Richard Massie, Esq. of Coddington, Chesire; that of v.1 is mutilated. Vol. 2, cop. 1 has armorial book-plate of the Rolle family of Stevenstone. Vol. 1 has in addition to the 3 plates listed by Gosse, a fold. map of Guinea, facing p. 209. In this copy the plate to face 157 is incorrectly bound facing p. 165.
Defoe, Daniel 1661?-1731
A General History Of The Pyrates
(General history of the robberies and murders of the most notorious pyrates.)
Edited by Manuel Schonhorn.
Columbia, University of South Carolina Press (1972)
xlviii, 717 p. illus. 24 cm.
Originally published under title: A general history of the robberies and murders of the most notorious pyrates ... by Captain Charles Johnson.
Includes bibliographical references.
The debate of who authored the General History of Pirates (GHP) was settled (or began) when literary scholar John Robert Moore suggested that Captain Charles Johnson, like Andrew Moreton, Kara Selym or Captain Roberts, was merely another mask for the creator of Robinson Crusoe. In any case depending on the time period, this book will be authored by either Johnson or Defoe. Do not let this confuse you. It is the same book.
The GHP is often considered the "Bible " when it comes to pirate research. Unfortunately it possesses many attributes of the Bible. For one thing it is often quoted but seldom read. For another thing, many scholars question the authenticity of the accounts. The book is often attributed to Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe.
This is an open debate with no end in sight. Currently the evidence suggests, Moore, the man who first presented the argument ignored evidence which refuted his thesis. Defenders of Moore, claim otherwise.What is known is there are no records of a Captain Charles Johnson ever existing. Most assume the name to have be a pen-name.
In 1712, a playwright named Charles Johnson enjoyed modest success with a work titled The Successful Pirate. The play was based on the exploits of Captain Avery. Some scholars suggest this playwright was Captain Charles Johnson. As part of the evidence they propose the work A General History of the Lives and Adventures of the most famous Highwaymen, Murderers, Street Robbers etc. also written by Captain Charles Johnson. The work appeared in 1734, three years after Defoe's death. Defoe defenders claim it could be a posthumous work.
Other sources suggest the pen name may have been created by the original publisher, Nathaniel Mist. Mist would have used the pen name to lend authority to the work and protect himself from Government attacks; due to his known Jacobite sympathies and strong opposition to the Whig Government of Robert Walpole.
To add to confusion to the authorship, Defoe worked for Mist up until 1724, The year the GHP was published. This is sometimes used as evidence as Defoe being the author. However, Defoe was a supporter of Robert Walpole. He was actually spying on Mist, for the Walpole government, when he worked for the publisher. He was trying to find evidence to put Mist out of business. According to Defoe, he and Mist would often fight, sometimes leading to physical violence. It was after one of these fights that Defoe quit working for Mist. Later, mist would inform other publishers of Defoe's spying efforts, causing Defoe great difficulty in getting published.
Besides Defoe, Mist also had several other writers working for him who wrote anonymously. It is quite possible that one of these other authors is the mystery Charles Johnson.
Despite the controversy of who the author is, The GHP is a collection of so-called true pirate lore. The book has been scrutinized over the years and many of the first hand accounts have been proven to be quite factual. In many instances, court records exist that provide extensive cross examination of the accounts in the GHP. However, some biographies contain little or no supporting evidence. Volume one is often considered the most factual portion of the GHP. Volume one gives the accounts of contemporary pirates (1700s). Volume two is considered less reliable and gives the accounts of earlier pirates dating from the 1600s. At least three biographies in Volume two are thought to be fiction, The most famous of these three possible fictitious accounts is the story of Captain Mission.
Regardless of its short-comings and the controversy of authorship, the GHP it is one of the most important (and most quoted) 18th century accounts of piracy. No Pirate Library should be without a copy.
Distinguished Service Professor John Robert Moore (1890-1973), was a professor at Indiana University and from the early 1930's was known internationally as specialist on Daniel Defoe. Of his scholarly books and monographs, four dealt with Defoe; of his 150-odd articles (ten of these in PMLA) more than 55 dealt with Defoe. His best known books are Daniel Defoe: Citizen of the Modern World (University of Chicago Press, 1958) and A Checklist of the Writings of Daniel Defoe (I.U. Press, 1960). It was Professor Moore who established the Defoe canon, beginning in 1950 with his discovery that the widely-read General History of the Pirates, attributed to a Captain Charles Johnson, was actually the work of Defoe. During the following decades, he added nearly 150 new titles to standard Defoe bibliographies and rejected as spurious some 30 titles included in such works. More information on Moore is available at the Indiana University Archives.
Pawson, Michael & Buisseret, David
Port Royal Jamaica
Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1975
xv, 204 p.,  leaves of plates : p., ill. ;, 24 cm.
Great book that describes Port Royal during the Golden Years, from the arrival of the British to the earthquake of 1692. Excellent background information of everyday life and why Privateering flourished in Port Royal. A Newer 2000 edition is currently in print through University of the West Indies Press, kingston Jamaica. I'm uncertain if it contains new information.
Works of fiction
If you were going to read just three fictional works of piracy, I'd suggest Captain Blood, Roderick Random, and Treasure Island. The books are not the best nautical books written, but they give you a good feel for the pirate life of the 17th and 18th Century. They are also the books that inspired so many of the works that followed.
The Women Pirates, Ann Bonney and Mary Read
London : Pluto Press, 1978. 74 pages.
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894
Edited, with notes and an introduction by Hiram Albert Vance. New York ; Macmillan, 1911, c1902.
xxix, 229 p., (2) leaves of plates : map, port.
(Macmillan's pocket American and English classics.)
Bibliography : p. xxviii-xxix.
Bibliographical references included in "Notes" p. 219-229.
plus many other editions.
Pyle, Howard, 1853-1911.; Johnson, Merle De Vore
Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates
Fiction, fact & fancy concerning the buccaneers & marooners of the Spanish Main:
New York, London, Harper & Brothers, 1921
Fiction : Juvenile audience
While listed as Fiction by the Library of Congress, the book indeed contains quite a few facts on Piracy. And it has the wonderful illustrations of Howard Pyle. A must have!
Smollett, Tobias George, 1721-1771
The Adventures of Roderick Random
Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 1979
Actually it was written around 1747! One of the earliest, if not the earliest Nautical novel around. It is a story of young man who ships off as a surgeon in the War of Jacob's Ear. Even in 1747, people called sailors "swabs" and "lubbers"
Sabatini, Rafael, 1875-1950
Captain Blood, his odyssey
Publication: Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1950
Yes that Captain Blood! If you have seen the movie and not read the book, then it is time to get literate.
Pirates of the Caribbean Bibliography
- West Indies; a Catalogue of Books, Maps and Engravings, Including Sections on Guiana, Slave Trade and Buccaneers and Pirates. Corp Author(s): Francis Edwards (Firm). London: Francis Edwards ltd., 1929.
- The History of the Lives and Bloody Exploits of the most Noted Pirates; their Trials and Executions. Including a Correct Account of the Late Piracies Committed in the West Indies, and the Expedition of Commodore Porter; also those Committed on the Brig Mexican, Who were Tried and Executed at Boston, in 1835 ... Embellished with Engravings from Original Designs. Hartford: S. Andrus & Son, 1855.
- The History of the Pirates, Containing the Lives of those Noted Pirate Captains, Misson, Bowen, Kidd, Tew, Halsey, White, Condent, Bellamy, Fly, Howard, Lewis, Cornelius, Williams, Burgess, North, and their several Crews. to which is Added, a Correct Account of the Late Piracies Committed in the West Indies; and the Expedition of Com. Porter. Haverhill: Mass. T. Carey, 1825.
- Allen,Gardner Weld Corp Author Essex Institute. Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates. Salem: Mass. Essex institute, 1929.
- Ayres, Philip ed, Juan Perez de Guzman, William Beeston, Sir, and b. The Voyages and Adventures of Capt. Barth. Sharp and Others, in the South Sea: Being a Journal of the Same, also Capt. Van Horn with His Buccanieres Surprizing of La Vera Cruz ... the True Relation of Sir Henry Morgan, His Expedition Against the Spaniards in the West-Indies, and His Taking Panama ... the President of Panama's Account of the Same Expedition: Translated Out of Spanish ... Col. Beeston's Adjustment of the Peace between the Spaniards and English in the West Indies. London: Printed by B.W. for R.H. and S.T., 1684.
- Baer, Joel Herman. Piracy Examined : A Study of Daniel Defoe's "General History of the Pirates" and its Milieu. [Mikrofilm-Ausg.]. ed. Princeton, 1971.
- Barnard, John. Ashton's Memorial: Or, an Authentick Account of the Strange Adventures and Signal Deliverances of Mr. Philip Ashton; Who, After He had made His Escape from the Pirates, Liv'd Alone on a Desolate Island for about 16 Months, &c. with a Short Account of Mr. Nicholas Merritt, Who was Taken at the Same Time. to which is Added, a Sermon on Dan.Iii. 17 by John Barnard, V.D.M. London: Printed for R. Ford and S. Chandler, 1726.
- Black,Clinton Vane de Brosse. Pirates of the West Indies. Cambridge England: New York, 1989.
- Blake, John Lauris, and Ramon, the rover of Cuba. The Cuban Rover, Or, Life in the West Indies. Boston: Dayton and Wentworth, 1853.
- Briggs, Peter. Buccaneer Harbor; the Fabulous History of Port Royal, Jamaica. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1970.
- Burnby, J. "The Account Books of Thomas Wright Tonge (1773-1854), a Lincolnshire Surgeon and Apothecary." Pharmaceutical Historian 34, no. 2 (32; Jun 2004 Jun): 17.
- Carey, Thomas. The History of the Pirates : Containing the Lives of those Noted Pirate Captains, Misson, Bowen, Kidd, Tew, Halsey, White, Condent, Bellamy, Fly, Howard, Lewis, Cornelius, Williams, Burgess, North and their Crews. also, an Account of the Piracies and Cruelties of John Augur, William Cunningham, Dennis Mackarthy, William Dowling, William Lewis, Thomas Morris, George Bendall, and William Ling, Who were Tried, Condemned and Executed at Nassau, New Providence, on the Tenth of December, 1718. to which is Added, A Correct Account of the Late Piracies Committed in the West Indies; and the Expedition of Commodore Porter. Hartford: Ezra Strong, 1835.
- Chakrabarti, P. ""neither of Meate nor Drinke, but what the Doctor Alloweth": Medicine Amidst War and Commerce in Eighteenth-Century Madras." Bulletin of the History of Medicine 80, no. 1 (2006): 1-38.
- Cordingly, David. Under the Black Flag : The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1996.
- Craig, Berry. "Pirates, Prostheses and Performing Amputations on the High Seas." O & P Business News, no. September 1 (2006): 42.
- Defoe, Daniel, Charles Johnson, and fl. A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most Notorious Pyrates [Sic] and also their Policies, Discipline and Government, from their First Rise and Settlement in the Island of Providence, in 1717, to the Present Year 1724 ... to which is Added a Short Abstract of the Statute and Civil Law, in Relation to Piracy. London: Printed for Ch. Rivington J. Lacy, 1724.
- Downie, Robert Angus, and Jenny Kirk. Who's Who in Davy Jones' Locker? : (a Biographical Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers and Privateers). [1st ]. ed. Hereford, England: Southgate Books, 1999.
- Earle, A. Scott. Surgery in America: From the Colonial Era to the Twentieth Century; Selected Writings. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1965.
- Elliott, Isabelle M. Z. Elliott,James Rawlings. A Short History of Surgical Dressings. London: Pharmaceutical Press, 1964.
- Exquemelin, A. O. The Buccaneers of America; a True Account of the most Remarkable Assaults Committed of Late Years upon the Coasts of the West Indies by the Buccaneers of Jamaica and Tortuga, both English and French. Wherein are Contained More especially the Unparalleled Exploits of Sir Henry Morgan, our English Jamaican Hero, Who Sacked Porto Bello, Burnt Panama, etc. London: Allen & Unwin, 1951.
- Exquemelin, A. O., and George Alfred Williams. The Buccaneers of America : Or the Pirates of Panama ; a True Account of the Famous Adventures and Daring Deeds of Sir Henry Morgan and Other Notorious Freebooters of the Spanish Main. New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1914.
- French, Joseph Lewis. Great Pirate Stories. New York: Tudor Pub. Co., 1929.
- Goodrich,Caspar F.Corp Author United States Naval Institute. Our Navy and the West Indian Pirates : A Documentary History. Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute, 1916.
- Gordon, Maurice Bear. Naval and Maritime Medicine during the American Revolution. Ventnor, N.J: Ventnor Publishers, 1978.
- Gosse, Philip. The History of Piracy. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1976.
- Gosse, Philip. The Pirates' Who's Who; Giving Particulars of the Lives & Deaths of the Pirates & Buccaneers. New York: B. Franklin, 1968.
- Harland, K. "Naval Medical Care 1620-1770. Saving the Seamen: Naval Medical Care in the Pre-Nelson Era, 1620-1770." Journal of the Royal Naval Medical Service 91, no. 2 (2005): 64-82.
- Johnson, Charles fl. A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the most Notorious Pirates. London: Conway Maritime Press, 1998.
- Latona, Jane E. Suppressing Piracy in the West Indies : A Bibliographical Essay. Washington, D.C.: Naval Historical Center Early History Branch, 1987.
- Lawrence, C. "The Shaping of Things to Come: Scottish Medical Education 1700-1939." Medical Education 40, no. 3 (Mar 2006 Mar): 212-218.
- Linebaugh, Peter, and Marcus Buford Rediker. The Many-Headed Hydra : Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000.
- Magee, R. "Medical Practice and Medical Education 1500-2001: An Overview." ANZ Journal of Surgery 74, no. 4 (Apr 2004 Apr): 272-276.
- Marrin, Albert. Terror of the Spanish Main : Sir Henry Morgan and His Buccaneers. 1st ed. New York: Dutton Children's Books, 1999.
- Marx, Robert F. Pirate Port; the Story of the Sunken City of Port Royal. Cleveland: World Pub. Co., 1967.
- Mechner, Emily. Pirates and Planters : Trade and Development in the Caribbean, 1492-1680.1999.
- Morison, Samuel Eliot. "Old Bruin" Commondore Matthew C. Perry, 1794-1858; the American Naval Officer Who Helped found Liberia, Hunted Pirates in the West Indies, Practised Diplomacy with Sultan of Turkey and the King of the Two Sicilies; Commanded the Gulf Squadron in the Mexican War, Promoted the Steam Navy and the Shell Gun, and Conducted the Naval Expedition Whichopened Japan. London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1968.
- Naqvi, N. H. "The First British Illustrated Surgical Catalogue." Vesalius: Acta Internationales Historiae Medicinae 10, no. 1 (Jun 2004 Jun): 38-41.
- Novotny, Ann Smith,C.Carter. Images of Healing : A Portfolio of American Medical & Pharmaceutical Practice in the 18th, 19th, and Early 20th Centuries. New York; London: Macmillan; Collier Macmillan, 1980.
- Pawson, Michael, David Buisseret, and author joint. Port Royal, Jamaica. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975.
- Pope, Dudley. The Buccaneer King : The Biography of Sir Henry Morgan, 1635-1688. New York: Dodd Mead, 1978.
- Porter, David defendant. Minutes of Proceedings of the Courts of Inquiry and Court Martial, in Relation to Captain David Porter: Convened at Washington, D.C., on Thursday, the Seventh Day of July, A.D. 1825. Printed by Authority from the Official Record. Washington: Printed by Davis & Force, 1825.
- Robinson, M. Todd. "Subject to the Power of the Infernall Spiritt" : Puritans, Privateers, and the Genesis of Buccaneers.1998.
- Roddis, Louis H. James Lind, Founder of Nautical Medicine. New York: H. Schuman, 1950.
- Roddis, Louis H. A Short History of Nautical Medicine. New York: London, P.B. Hoeber, 1941.
- Rogozinski, Jan. A Brief History of the Caribbean : From the Arawak and the Carib to the Present. New York: Meridian, 1994.
- Smollett, Tobias George. Knapp,Lewis M. The Letters of Tobias Smollett; Oxford: Clarendon P, 1970.
- Smollett, Tobias George Boucé, Paul-Gabriel. The Adventures of Roderick Random. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 1979.
- Steinbeck, John. Cup of Gold : A Life of Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer, with Occasional Reference to History. New York: Covici Friede, 1936.
- Sternbeck, Alfred, Elizabeth Hill, tr, Doris Mudie, and tr joint. Filibusters and Buccaneers. New York: R.M. McBride, 1942.
- Stockton, Frank Richard. Buccaneers and Pirates of our Coasts. New York: The Macmillan Company London Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1943.
- Strong, Ezra, and Silas Andrus. The History of the Lives and Bloody Exploits of the most Noted Pirates : Their Trials and Executions ; Including a Correct Account of the Late Piracies Committed in the West Indies, and the Expedition of Commodore Porter ; also, those Committed on the Brig Mexican, Who were Tried and Executed at Boston, in 1835 ; Embellished with Engravings from Original Designs. Hartford: Silas Andrus & Son, 1849.
- Syme, Ronald, William Stobbs, and illus. Sir Henry Morgan, Buccaneer. New York: W. Morrow, 1965.
- Walker, R. M. "The Barber Surgeons of Bristol." Bristol Medico-Chirurgical Journal 90, no. 335/6 (Jul-Oct 1975 Jul-Oct): 51-56.
- Watt, J. "Sea Surgeons and Slave Ships--a Nineteenth Century Exercise in Life-Saving." Transactions of the Medical Society of London 104 (-1988 1987-1988): 130-148.
- Watt, J. "The Surgery of Sea Warfare from the Galley to the Nuclear Age." Transactions of the Medical Society of London 97 (-1981 1980-1981): 1-15.
- Weintraub, Aileen. Henry Morgan : Seventeenth-Century Buccaneer. New York, N.Y.: PowerKids Press, 2002.
- Wheeler, Richard. In Pirate Waters. New York: Crowell, 1969.
- Whitman, Levi. A Sermon, Preached at Wellfleet, March 9, 1800, on the Sabbath After the Confirmation of the News of the Death of Capt. William Chipman, Who was Inhumanly Murdered by a Part of Rigaud's Pirates in the West-Indies. Boston: Printed by Manning & Loring, 1800.
- Williams, Guy R. The Age of Agony : The Art of Healing, c. 1700-1800. Chicago, Ill: Academy Chicago Publishers, 1986.
- Williford, Miriam. Lost Women : Mary Read and Ann Bonney. S.l.: s.n., 1977.
- Wood, Enoch. An Account of the Pirates : Executed at St. Christopher's in the West Indies, in 1828. London: Published by John Mason... (James Nichols Printer.), 1830.
- Woodbury, George, Woodes Rogers, and d. The Great Days of Piracy in the West Indies. [1st ]. ed. New York Norton, 1951.
- Young, Everild, Kjeld Helweg-Larsen, and author joint. The Pirates' Priest; the Life of Père Labat in the West Indies, 1693-1705. [London] Jarrolds, 1965.