THE way pirates really looked, talked and lived will be revealed in this year’s Children’s Christmas Lecture, presented by a University of Reading historian.

Pirate myths and stereotypes made popular in films and novels will be challenged by Dr Richard Blakemore in an online presentation aimed at a younger audience on Wednesday, December 16, from 4pm until 4.45pm.

During the lecture, Dr Blakemore will use the detective work of historians to explore what really makes a pirate - telling the stories of famous pirates like Blackbeard and Mary Read, explaining why not all pirates were seen as bad guys, and revealing whether they really did speak in funny accents, walk the plank and bury treasure on desert islands.

Dr Blakemore, Lecturer in the History of the Atlantic World between 1500 and 1800, said: “Most of us think of pirates as violent and unruly villains, saying ‘arrrgh’, drinking bottles of rum and flying skull and crossbones flags.

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"This stereotype is so popular it appears on everything from cartoons to cakes.

“In fact, some pirates were viewed as heroes in their communities, helping their families and friends ashore, while some historic figures we still consider to be heroic were essentially pirates in all but name.

“This lecture will change how you think about pirates, using historical evidence to bust some of the myths that surround them – and to show that some of those myths do indeed have a grain of truth.”

The University’s popular annual Children’s Christmas Lectures are aimed at children aged 7-12, but still draw on the latest research by world-leading experts at the University of Reading.

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Previous lectures have revealed secrets of Christmas trees and other plants, and the wonders of the brain and electricity in the body.

The lectures often sell out, but hosting this year’s online due to the pandemic means more youngsters than ever can join in.

Book a place on this year’s Children’s Christmas Lecture.