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Today marks the 303rd anniversary of the death of Blackbeard, one of the most famous and most notorious pirates in history. He was so famous in fact that many fictional pirate tropes can directly be attributed to him (and I’m not talking about all these weird images where it looks like his hair is on fire).

First off, the ‘pirate accent’ is actually just the regional dialect of south west England, where Blackbeard (or rather Edward Teach) was from. He most likely started life hauling cargo in the busy Bristol docks as his father had done, before giving it up for a life of piracy.

But perhaps Blackbeard’s greatest contribution to pirate lore is just how reckless he was. His blockade of Charles Town is regarded as one of the boldest moves made by any pirate. His death might have influenced the heroic image of the pirate dying in battle, fighting until the end. Even though if you take a close look at pirates, they weren’t really that romantic but brutal terrorists and murderers.

Even so, Blackbeard’s story is fascinating, and a big inspiration for my own pirate novels. If you want to learn more about him, I highly recommend Internet Historian’s video The Gentleman Pirate, which is half drama and half documentary.