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Captain Cleveland and Corsair Conrad represent a major shift among blockbuster pirates in that their sex appeal was not only a component of, but an overwhelming factor in their stories. (Even Cooper’s Pilot, who rejected Scott’s path and chose his version of glory over love, was dashing enough to attract Alice Dunscombe.) Prior to Conrad, pirates could certainly be linked to women: Avery had his invented princess bride; some tales of John Gow portrayed him as a frustrated suitor; and as we will see in chapter 7, it is hard to imagine anyone caring much about Calico Jack Rackham had he not attached himself to Anne Bonny. But none of these men, not even the early versions of Gow/Goffe, who kept plundering right to the end, experienced love as the one weakness that must undo them as pirates; a wife to them was a prize and a triumph, not a curse.

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  1. John C. Appleby, Women and English Piracy, 1540–1720: Partners and Victims of Crime (Woodbridge, UK: The Boydell Press, 2013), 88.

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  2. Aubin’s brother-in-law, David Aubin, lived in Barbados and was attacked by pirates. Their brother Philip was shipwrecked in Guinea; Philip may also have been involved with slave ships (Debbie Welham, “Delight and Instruction? Women’s Political Engagement in the Works of Penelope Aubin” [PhD dissertation, University of Winchester, 2009], 90, 95–96).

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  3. Joel Baer, “Penelope Aubin and the Pirates of Madagascar: Biographical Notes and Documents,” Eighteenth-Century Women 1 (2001): 49.

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  4. Eve Tavor Bannet, Transatlantic Stories and the History of Reading: Migrant Fictions 1720–1810 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 48.

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© 2015 Frederick Burwick and Manushag N. Powell

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Burwick, F., Powell, M.N. (2015). Pirate Sex. In: British Pirates in Print and Performance. Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

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