Books and literature

From Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe stranded on a desert island, to the mysterious origins of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner, the seas and oceans of the world have long influenced writers and the stories they tell. Join us as we open the book on some well-loved maritime literature...

Erskine Childers wrote The Riddle of The Sands, a bestselling Edwardian spy novel. The logbooks that inspired him are in the National Maritime Museum.

Horatio Hornblower is the fictional naval hero created by C. S. Forester in 1937 who appears in a number of novels set during the Napoleonic Wars.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1772–1822) was an English Romantic poet and husband of Mary Shelley. He died when his boat sank off the coast of Italy in 1822

Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge was first published in 1798 and is one of the most famous poems in the English language.

Robinson Crusoe is the hero of Daniel Defoe’s famous 1719 novel that tells the story of a man cast away on an island in the Caribbean for 26 years.

The first play by William Shakespeare believed to have been performed at sea was Hamlet in 1607.

For over 300 years, we have thrilled to the antics of fictional and fictionalised pirates from Blackbeard to Jack Sparrow.

After 11 years of Republican rule the monarchy was restored in May 1660.

Naval reformer, citizen scientist, serious player on the national stage, MP and prisoner of the Tower of London – Samuel Pepys was all these but it is his candid diary that has ensured he remains a household name centuries after his death.