Five Adventure Books Based On Real People

Real-Life Adventure stories

They say that art imitates life and this is no more true than the characters written about in these five adventure books. Tales of chivalry, swashbuckling, survival, and mystery are thought to have sprung from the minds of genius, but in reality, the stories were written from the evening news! While we marvel at the heroic deeds of these heroes, in actuality, the authors were merely retelling the stories that were well-known during their day. Truth is often stranger than fiction and that can be found in these following classical stories.



This story of a castaway, written by Daniel Defoe in 1719, comes from the real life events of a Scottish sailor named Alexander Selkirk, who survived on the island of Más a Tierra off the coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean for four years. Selkirk, unlike the fictional Robinson Crusoe, willingly chose to be a castaway by refusing to sail any further on a leaky ship. During his time on the island, Selkirk became a master of survival, living off of feral goats and building two structures to live in. The story also mentions encounters with cannibals and a companion, Crusoe named Friday (after the day he found him), but these people were found only in the mind of Defoe. The only people Selkirk saw on the island were Spanish sailors whom he avoided because they were the enemies of England. Selkirk was eventually rescued and returned to his homeland where he told his story which was fictionalized eleven years later.



Author Alexandre Dumas wrote this swashbuckling tale set in France during the reign of Louis XV. The three musketeers (named Athos, Aramis, and Porthos) were friends and a part of the king’s personal guard. Dumas made it clear that these names were only nicknames of the famous sword fighters because they did not want to ruin their family’s name by being mere soldiers. Together they fight the treacherous Cardinal Richelieu and his guard and protect France from treason and villainy. The story is centered around a young swordsman from Gascony, named D’Artagnan, who becomes the protege of the three musketeers. They teach him to fight, love, and drink like a true musketeer. All of the main characters are real people. They were all musketeers and the King, Queen, and Cardinal Richelieu were all based on real historical figures. The musketeers were all born around 1615-1620, along with D’Artagnan. Their real names were: Charles de Batz-Castelmore d’Artagnan (D’Artagnan), Armand de Sillegue d’Athos (Athos), Henri, Seigneur d’Aramitz (Aramis), and Isaac de Porthau (Porthos). They were known for their qualities and skills, just like in the book. In addition to these famous characters, the villain, the Countess d’Winter, was an actual English spy named Lucy Hays who was known as The Countess of Carlisle – and she did steal the Duke of Buckingham’s jewels! For more information, read: The Real Three Musketeers.



Another story by Alexander Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo, is about a French sailor named, Edmond Dantès, who is falsely imprisoned so that he cannot marry his true love, Mercedes. In the story, in prison, he meets a fellow inmate, Abbé Faria (The Mad Priest), who educates Dantès on politics, language, culture and science. He also tells Dantès where he can find a vast treasure buried on an island called Monte Cristo. After eight years of instruction, the old priest dies and Dantès escapes to discover the treasure. He returns to France as a rich man and seeks his revenge on those that wrongly imprisoned him. The story is partially true. It is based on the exploits of Louis Napoleon, the grandson of Napoleon Bonaparte. He would become known as Napoleon III, the emperor of France. Louis Napoleon was also imprisoned for life and escaped only to return a rich and powerful man. The island of Monte Cristo comes from an actual island off the coast of Italy that Dumas sailed around with Prince Louis Bonaparte – the cousin of the real life Edmond Dantès!



The tale of King Arthur and his knights of the round table is the result of several British and French authors starting in the 1200s. It describes the tales of a chivalrous king and his heroic knights and the adventures that they had while fighting evil and injustice. King Arthur was eventually betrayed by his cousin, Mordred, and traveled to the mystical island of Avalon where he rests to this day to be called back to save England. So how could this story be true? While most of the story is made up of myths, there were some legendary historical figures and places that were used. Places like Tintagel Castle (the place of Arthur’s birth), the battle of Baden Hill (of which took place in 500AD), and Cadbury Fort (the real Camelot) can still be found in Britain. Arthur, which is a Roman name, was probably a man known as “Rigotamos” or Supreme King who’s Roman name was “Artorios”. He was sent by Pope Leo I, in 467AD to stop the Saxon invasions from what is now Germany. This would put him in Britain about the time of the battle of Baden Hill. He was betrayed by a lieutenant, wounded, and fled to a place called…Avalon.



This novel was written by Scotsman, Robert Louis Stevenson, published in 1883. It is a story about buried treasure, pirates, and a young boy who becomes entwined with this daring sea adventure based in the Caribbean. While the story is purely fictional, many aspects of the book are based on true facts. The idea of buried treasure has often been rumored by the famous pirate, Blackbeard (Edward Teach). He was a terror of the Americas and the Caribbean from 1713-1718. While there is some doubt that Blackbeard really buried treasure, the famous character of Long John Silver is well known by readers of the book (and some deep-fried fast food fish lovers). This character is based off of a peg-legged sea captain from Virginia, called John Lloyd and his brother, Owen. These two merchant captains made off with one of the biggest Spanish silver hauls in all of piracy. The incident had four European countries in a turmoil as the silver was lost and, supposedly buried in a real place called, Norman Island, in the British Virgin Islands.