Captain Charles Johnson
|Captain Charles Johnson
|A General History of the Pyrates
Captain Charles Johnson was the British author of the 1724 book A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates, whose identity remains a mystery. No record exists of a captain by this name, and "Captain Charles Johnson" is generally considered a pen name for one of London's writer-publishers. Some scholars have suggested that the author was actually Daniel Defoe, but this is disputed.
A prime source for the biographies of many well known pirates of the era, Johnson gave an almost mythical status to the more colourful characters, and it is likely that the author used considerable artistic licence in his accounts of pirate conversations. First appearing in Charles Rivington's shop in London, the book sold so well that by 1726, an enlarged fourth edition had appeared. English naval historian David Cordingly writes: "It has been said, and there seems no reason to question this, that Captain Johnson created the modern conception of pirates."
The original publisher Charles Rivington emphasized the fact that the catalogue included stories of "the remarkable ACTIONS and ADVENTURES of the two Female Pyrates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny" (largely assembled from newspaper accounts, Admiralty Court records and a few interviews) A second edition came out within a few months, vastly enlarged and most likely assembled from writings by other authors. German and Dutch translations were published in 1725. These German- and Dutch-language versions greatly played up the salaciousness of the accounts of "Amazon" pirates.