‘Louis Becke’s Modern Buccaneer: The transformation of William “Bully” Hayes into the first modern literary pirate of the Pacific’

Chrystopher Spicer

James Cook University



Journal of Australian, Canadian, and Aotearoa New Zealand Studies 1, issue 2 (December 2021): 73-108, https://doi.org/10.52230/LDYB2302


During his career, Louis Becke, the most internationally well-known Australian writer of the South Pacific region at the turn of the nineteenth century, wrote a series of novellas, stories, and articles that featured the infamous conman and thief, Captain William ‘Bully’ Hayes, with whom he had sailed through the Pacific Islands for a short period. Influenced by the work of Robert Louis Stevenson and earlier accounts of piracy in the Pacific, Becke’s fictionalized version of Hayes was the original archetypal South Pacific pirate character: a Long John Silver of the South Seas. Beginning with the first major work about Hayes, A Modern Buccaneer, substantially written by Becke although published under Boldrewood’s name, Becke’s re-imagined Hayes became the pervasive Pacific pirate literary trope not only throughout Becke’s books, stories, and articles but also within the work of subsequent writers.


Louis Becke, Robert Louis Stevenson, Pirates, Pacific literature, Bully Hayes

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