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The incredible true story of William "Bully' Hayes, the so-called "Pirate of the Pacific" in the 19th century; the myth and the man. The story of Bully Hayes - so-called "Pirate of the Pacific" - is known throughout the Pacific, from the US to Australia and all points in between. He became the inspiration for a variety of fictional characters, writers from Robert Louis Stevenson to James A Michener and Frank Clune have used the Hayes legend, films were made based on his life (one starring Boris Karloff, another Douglas Fairbanks), and his name adorns bars and hotels all over the Pacific. But the truth is both less noble and more intriguing than the myth. In large part, the Hayes of legend was a product of the popular press at the time, who were determined to construct a romantic figure to feed their readers' appetites. This book simultaneously sorts the facts from the fantasy and recounts an amazing true story of a genuine rogue and adventurer, against the backdrop of the great age of sail and trade. This is the first proper biography of this legendary figure, and the only book that sets out to properly separate the myth from the truth.
From the author: No one is even sure what this American from Cleveland, Ohio, looked like, and yet his impressive physical appearance is part of the "Bully Hayes" legend. Most of the people who met him agree that he was six feet tall, and hefty in physique, that he had a bluff and hearty manner and a soft, persuasive voice. Everyone agrees that he had a beard, but whether it was cut to a point (like Captain Morgan) or flowing down to his belt varies according to the narrator, and whether it was brown, black or gray is equally vague. What everyone does say, though, is that he loved women. Captain Bully Hayes had several wives on shore, and a harem of beautiful brown girls on board his dashing little ships. And they also say that he had a magnetic personality. Today they would call it charisma. Hayes was accused of every possible kind of crime - seduction, rape, bigamy, blackbirding, barratry, horse-stealing, cheating at cards, and the murder of his own family - but throughout his remarkable career none of this was proved.
He was notorious for sailing away from ports without paying his debts, but that kind of easy dishonesty was so common in the days of sail that a term was made up for it - "paying with the foretopsail." It was a shabby sort of crime, and one he committed often, but not one to merit the "Bully Hayes" legend. Yet, though he never fired a broadside in his life, somehow William Henry Hayes became the pirate of the Pacific. Wherever he went, headlines sprang into the papers. As hundreds of editors knew, everyone wanted to read about "the notorious Captain Hayes."
Joan Druett's previous books have won many awards, including a New York Public Library Book to Remember citation, a John Lyman Award for Best Book of American Maritime History, and the Kendall Whaling Museum's L. Byrne Waterman Award.