North East Wales

Long John Silver 'based on two Welsh brothers'

Robert Louis Stevenson
Image caption Robert Louis Stevenson said Silver was based on his pal William Henley

Long John Silver, the parrot-wearing wooden-legged pirate of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, was based on two Welsh brothers, a book claims.

US author John Amrhein spent nine years researching the story of Owen and John Lloyd, born in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, who emigrated to the West Indies.

Owen is said to have buried 52 chests of treasure they stole from a Spanish galleon. And John had a wooden leg.

Mr Amrhein says the Captain Flint character also suggests a Welsh link.

The swashbuckling story of Treasure Island has captured people's imagination ever since it was published in 1883.

It has inspired more than 50 film and TV adaptations.

Stevenson himself said that his most famous character was based on his friend, William Henley, who was "astoundingly clever" and was a "massive-shouldered fellow with a big red beard and a crutch".

But Mr Amrhein challenges the author's own assertion in favour of the Lloyd brothers in his book, Treasure Island: The Untold Story.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, he says the Lloyds began as captains of respectable merchant ships.

But he claims they turned to piracy when a Spanish galleon laden with treasure sought refuge in the American seaport of Ocracoke, North Carolina, in a storm in 1750.

Mr Amrhein, who lives near Ocracoke, says the Lloyd brothers seized the treasure in revenge for their treatment by the Spanish in an earlier conflict.

He contacted the National Library of Wales when his research put him on the trail of the Lloyd brothers.

His research was helped by Iona Jones, of the library's inquiries team, who helped him track the brothers' origin to Rhuddlan.

Ms Jones said: "I think that it is great fun that Long John Silver was Welsh since most of our heroes are law-abiding and somewhat straight laced.

"But I also prophesy that every pirate in every pantomime this year will have a marked Welsh accent.

"It also goes to show that you should never dismiss libraries as boring - you never know what you'll find out next."

As part of his claim, Amrhein says Captain Flint may even be named after the brothers' home county. At that time, Rhuddlan was in Flintshire.

Last year Sky One announced comedian Eddie Izzard was to play Silver in two-part adaptation of Treasure Island scheduled for Christmas 2012.

Llanelli-born Keith Allen portrayed the pirate in a stage version of the book in London in 2008.

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