Long John Silver


Long John Silver is a
fictional character In , a character is a or other being in a (such as a , , , , or ). The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "fictional" versus "real" character may be made. Derived from the w ...
and the main
antagonist An antagonist is a character in a story who is presented as the chief foe of the protagonist 200px, William Shakespeare, Shakespeare's ''Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.'' William Morris Hunt, oil on canvas, c. 1864 A protagonist (from grc, πρω ...
in the
novel A novel is a relatively long work of narrative fiction, typically written in prose and published as a book. The present English word for a long work of prose fiction derives from the for "new", "news", or "short story of something new", itself ...

Treasure Island ''Treasure Island'' (originally ''The Sea Cook: A Story for Boys'')Hammond, J. R. 1984. "Treasure Island." In ''A Robert Louis Stevenson Companion'', Palgrave Macmillan Literary Companions. London: Palgrave Macmillan. . is an adventure novel b ...

Treasure Island
'' (1883) by
Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson; 13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as ''Treasure Island'', ''Strange Case of Dr Jekyll an ...

Robert Louis Stevenson
. The most colourful and complex character in the book, he continues to appear in popular culture. His missing leg and parrot, in particular, have greatly contributed to the image of the pirate in popular culture. His name is also commonly used as a slang term to describe an extra long glass vessel.


Long John Silver is a cunning and opportunistic pirate who was
quartermaster Quartermaster is a military term, the meaning of which depends on the country and service. In land army, armies, a quartermaster is generally a relatively senior soldier who supervises stores or barracks and distributes materiel, supplies and wik ...
under the notorious
Captain Flint Captain J. Flint is a fictional 18th-century Piracy, pirate Sea captain, captain who features in a number of novels, television series, and films. The original character was created by the Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894). Fl ...
. Stevenson's portrayal of Silver has greatly influenced the modern iconography of the pirate. Silver has a
parrot Parrots, also known as psittacines , are bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrates constituting the class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class ...

, named Captain Flint in honor—or mockery—of his former captain,Stevenson (1883), "The Voyage"
h. 10 H is the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet. H may also refer to: Musical symbols * H number, Harry Halbreich Harry Halbreich (Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of ...
pp. 80f.
who generally perches on Silver's shoulder, and is known to chatter pirate or seafaring phrases like "Pieces of Eight", and "Stand by to go about." Silver uses the parrot as another means of gaining Jim's trust, by telling the boy all manner of exciting stories about the parrot's buccaneer history. 'Now that bird,' Silver would say, 'is, maybe, two hundred years old, Hawkins—they lives forever mostly, and if anybody's seen more wickedness it must be the devil himself. She's sailed with England—the great pirate Edward England, Cap'n England. She's been at Madagascar, and at Malabar, and Surinam, and Providence, and Portobello... She was at the boarding of the ''Viceroy of the Indies'' out of Goa, she was, and to look at her you would think she was a baby." Silver claims to have served in the Royal Navy and lost his leg under "the immortal Edward Hawke, 1st Baron Hawke, Hawke". "His left leg was cut off close by the hip, and under the left shoulder, he carried a crutch, which he managed with wonderful dexterity, hopping about upon it like a bird. He was very tall and strong, with a face as big as a ham—plain and pale, but intelligent and smiling." He also claims to have been the only man whom Flint ever feared. Like many of Stevenson's characters, there is significant duality in the character; ostensibly Silver is a hardworking and likeable seaman, and it is only as the plot unfolds that his villainous nature is gradually revealed. His relationship with Jim Hawkins (character), Jim Hawkins, the novel's protagonist and narrator, belies that duality, as he serves as a mentor and eventually father-figure to Jim, creating much shock and emotion when it is discovered that he is in charge of the mutiny, and especially when Jim must confront and fight him later on. Although treacherous and willing to change sides at any time to further his own interests, Silver has compensating virtues. He is wise enough to save his money, in contrast to the spendthrift ways of most of the pirates. He is physically courageous despite his disability: for instance, when Flint's cache is found to be empty, he coolly stands his ground against five murderous seamen despite having only Jim, a boy in his teens, to back him. When Silver escapes at the end of the novel, he takes "three or four hundred Guinea (coin), guineas" of the treasure with him, thus becoming one of only two former members of Captain Flint's crew to get his hands on a portion of the recovered treasure. (The repentant maroonee Ben Gunn (Treasure Island), Ben Gunn is the other, but he spends all pound sterling, £1,000 in nineteen days.) Jim's own ambivalence towards Silver is reflected in the last chapter, when he speculates that the old pirate must have settled down in comfortable retirement: "It is to be hoped so, I suppose, for his chances of comfort in another world are very small." Silver is married to a woman of African descent, whom he trusts to manage his business affairs in his absence and to liquidate his Bristol assets when his actions make it impossible for him to go home. He confides in his fellow pirates that he and his wife plan to rendezvous after the voyage to Skeleton Island is complete and Flint's treasure is recovered, at which point Silver will retire to a life of luxury. Ironically his "share" of Flint's treasure (pound sterling, £420) is considerably less than that of Ben Gunn (£1,000) and what Silver boasts was his share from England (£900) and from Flint (£2,000). According to Stevenson's letters, the idea for the character of Long John Silver was inspired by his real-life friend William Ernest Henley, William Henley, a writer and editor. Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne, described Henley as "...a great, glowing, massive-shouldered fellow with a big red beard and a crutch; jovial, astoundingly clever, and with a laugh that rolled like music; he had an unimaginable fire and vitality; he swept one off one's feet". In a letter to Henley after the publication of ''Treasure Island'', Stevenson wrote: "I will now make a confession. It was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver...the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you".

Adaptations and related works


* A prequel novel to ''Treasure Island'', titled ''Porto Bello Gold'', was published in 1924 by Arthur D. Howden Smith. * British historian Dennis Judd presents Silver as the main character in his 1977 prequel, ''The Adventures of Long John Silver'', and in the 1979 sequel, ''Return to Treasure Island''. * John Silver is also the protagonist in Björn Larsson (author), Björn Larsson's fictional 1995 autobiography, ''Long John Silver: The True and Eventful History of My Life of Liberty and Adventure as a Gentleman of Fortune and Enemy to Mankind'', published in Sweden in 1995. * Silver is the main character in Edward Chupack's 2008 ''Silver — My Own Tale as Told by Me with a Goodly Amount of Murder''. * Silver is a minor character in Andrew Motion's 2012 novel "Silver (Motion novel), Silver: Return to Treasure Island", a sequel to the original book. Set many years after the end of the original, Silver is now half mad and blind, living in the company of his wife and daughter.


* Orson Welles played Silver in a July 18, 1938 broadcast of ''The Mercury Theatre on the Air''. * Basil Rathbone starred as both The Narrator and Silver in a 1944 audio recording for Columbia Masterworks Records. * William Redfield (actor), William Redfield played Silver on the May 14, 1948 ''Your Playhouse of Favorites'' adaptation. * Ronald Colman hosted an adaptation of the novel on the April 27, 1948 broadcast of ''Favorite Story''. * James Mason played Silver opposite Bobby Driscoll's "Jim Hawkins" on the ''Lux Radio Theatres adaptation on January 29, 1951. * James Kennedy (actor), James Kennedy played Silver in the ''Tale Spinners for Children'' audio adaptation of ''Treasure Island'' (United Artists Records, UAC 11013). * There have been two BBC Radio adaptations of ''Treasure Island'', with Silver being played by Peter Jeffrey in 1989, and Jack Shepherd (actor), Jack Shepherd in 1995. * The author John le Carré performed an abridged reading of the novel in five parts as part of BBC Radio 4's ''Afternoon Reading''. * Tom Baker starred as Silver in Big Finish Productions' 2012 audio adaptation.


There have been several major stage adaptations made.Dury, Richard
Stage and Radio adaptations of ''Treasure Island''
The number of minor adaptations remains countless. * For a time , in London, there was an annual production of the musical ''Treasure Island'', based on a Libretto, book by Bernard Miles and Josephine Wilson. The music was composed by Cyril Ornadel and the lyrics by Hal Shaper. The musical was performed at the Mermaid Theatre, originally under the direction of Bernard Miles, who played Long John Silver, a part he also played in various television versions. Comedian Spike Milligan would often play Ben Gunn in these productions, and in 1981, Tom Baker played Long John Silver. * ''Pieces of Eight (1985 musical), Pieces of Eight'', a musical adaptation by Jule Styne, premiered in Edmonton, Alberta, in 1985. * In 2011, Tom Hewitt (actor), Tom Hewitt starred in B. H. Barry and Vernon Morris's stage adaptation of the novel, which officially opened 5 March at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. * In July 2011, Bristol Old Vic staged a large-scale outdoor production of ''Treasure Island'' outside the theatre on King Street, Bristol directed by Sally Cookson, with music by Benji Bower. * From October 2013 to 2014, Mind the Gap Theatre Company held a national tour of ''Treasure Island'', retold by Olivier award-winning writer Mike Kenny (writer), Mike Kenny. * In 2013, YouthPlays published ''Long Joan Silver'' by Arthur M. Jolly, an adaptation where all of the pirates are women. * From December 2014 to April 2015, a version by Bryony Lavery and directed by Polly Findlay was produced at London's Royal National Theatre. In this version of the play, Jim is a girl. * Another ''Doctor Who'' alumnus, Arthur Darvill, played Silver in the 2014 Royal National Theatre, National Theatre production of ''Treasure Island''. *The broadway musical ''SpongeBob SquarePants (musical), SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical'' features the character in the song "Poor Pirates". * As part of their 2017 season, the Stratford Festival, Stratford Festival of Canada premiered a new adaptation of ''Treasure Island'' by Canadian playwright Nicolas Billon.


* Charles Stanton Ogle, Charles Ogle played Silver in Treasure Island (1920 film), the 1920 silent film. * Wallace Beery was the first speaking Long John Silver in Treasure Island (1934 film), the 1934 film also starring Lionel Barrymore. * Robert Newton became the definitive Long John Silver in The Walt Disney Company, Disney's Treasure Island (1950 film), 1950 live-action film. Born in Dorset in the South West of England, Newton had a broad 'West Country' accent & when this was encouraged & exaggerated by the writers, it became the archetypal 'Pirate voice'.! The phrases "Arrrrrh, matey!" & "Ha, haaar, Jim lad" have become iconic to the way historic pirates are perceived. The 1954 film, ''Long John Silver (film), Long John Silver'', again starred Robert Newton as the title character, which he would reprise in television (see below). * Animal Treasure Island, The 1971 anime film depicts Silver as an anthropomorphic pig who captains his own pirate ship, sporting a hook prosthesis on his left hand rather than a missing leg. * In 1971, Boris Andreyev (actor), Boris Andreyev played Silver in the Soviet version ''Ostrov sokrovishch''. * Orson Welles portrayed Silver in Treasure Island (1972 live-action film), the 1972 live action film adaptation. * In Treasure Island (1988 film), the 1988 Soviet animated film adaptation, Armen Dzhigarkhanyan provided the voice talent for John Silver. * In the 1994 movie ''The Pagemaster'', the character of Silver is voiced by Jim Cummings. * Tim Curry portrays Long John Silver in Disney's Muppet Treasure Island, 1996 Muppets musical film adaptation. * Jack Palance, in one of his last film appearances, portrays Silver in Treasure Island (1999 film), the 1999 film. * Silver is voiced by Brian Murray (actor), Brian Murray and depicted as a cyborg in the The Walt Disney Company, Disney 2002 animated science fiction adventure film ''Treasure Planet''. * Lance Henriksen played Silver in the 2006 film ''Pirates of Treasure Island''. * Tobias Moretti played Silver in the 2007 German film adaptation of ''Treasure Island,'' entitled ''Die Schatzinsel''. * In the film ''Solo: A Star Wars Story'' (2018), the character of Tobias Beckett (as played by Woody Harrelson) was inspired by Long John Silver.


* Robert Newton followed up his two feature films with a 1955 Australian-produced television series ''The Adventures of Long John Silver''. * Peter Wyngarde played Silver in the 1958 TV series ''The Adventures of Ben Gunn''. * BBC Television has presented the story in miniseries format four times, with the role of Silver being played by Bernard Miles in 1951 and again in 1957;, Peter Vaughan in 1968; and Alfred Burke in 1977. Miles played the role one final time in a 1982 TV movie. * In 1959, Ivo Garrani played Silver in an Italian television miniseries. * Ivor Dean played the character in an acclaimed European four-part mini-series in 1966. He intended to reprise the role in another series with more adventures of Silver and began writing it with director Robert S. Baker, but his sudden death in 1974 stopped all further plans. In 1985, the Ivor Dean script was used as foundation for the The Walt Disney Company, Disney 10-part TV series ''Return to Treasure Island (TV series), Return to Treasure Island'', starring Brian Blessed as Long John Silver. * In the 1978 anime series ''Treasure Island (1978 TV series), Takarajima'' directed by Osamu Dezaki the character is voiced by Genzō Wakayama. * A 1982 Soviet miniseries had Silver portrayed by Oleg Borisov. * Anthony Quinn played Silver in the 1987 television miniseries ''Treasure Island in Outer Space''. * Charlton Heston portrayed a darker Long John Silver in the 1990 made-for-television movie, ''Treasure Island (1990 film), Treasure Island''. * Eddie Izzard played Long John Silver in the 2012 Treasure Island (2012 miniseries), Sky mini-series. * Luke Arnold played John Silver in the Starz television series ''Black Sails (TV series), Black Sails'' (2014–2017), a prequel story set 20 years before ''Treasure Island''. In this series, Silver as a young man begins as a scheming cook who rises to serve as quartermaster on the ''Walrus'' and on a captured Spanish Man-of-war, Man O' War, later to lead the pirate and former-slave forces that attempt to re-take Nassau from the British. Reflecting his relationship with Jim Hawkins, Silver intends only to use his crewmates to enrich himself, but comes to care for them despite himself. At one point, a rival pirate crew captures the Man O' War but, being too few to sail the ship themselves, ask Silver for a list of crew members who can be counted on to shift their loyalties, intending to execute the rest. Silver refuses, and the pirates torture him by repeatedly striking his leg with an axe. The ''Walrus crew free themselves and rescue him, but his leg is beyond saving and has to be amputated. He loses consciousness, and wakes to find that a grateful and impressed crew has voted him quartermaster. * Costas Mandylor portrays "Captain Silver" in the 2016 episode "The Brothers Jones" on American Broadcasting Company, ABC's ''Once Upon a Time (TV series), Once Upon a Time''.

Other print media

* ''A Ballad of John Silver'', a poem from John Masefield, was published in 1921. * ''Long John Silver (comics), Long John Silver'' is a Franco-Belgian comics series written by Xavier Dorison and illustrated by Mathieu Laufray which was published in French and English. * John Silver, a fictional space pirate with mechanical leg who appears in the Italy, Italian comic book ''Nathan Never'', was inspired by Long John Silver.


* The rock band Jefferson Airplane created an album in 1972 named ''Long John Silver (album), Long John Silver''. * A fast-food seafood restaurant chain, Long John Silver's, is named after the character. *One of main character from video game Cyberpunk 2077 have called Johnny Silverhand, which name is an reference to John Silver.



* * Elwin, Malcolm (1939). ''Old Gods Falling''. New York: The Macmillan Company. . * Prince, Alison (1994). ''Kenneth Grahame: An Innocent in the Wild Wood''. London: Allison & Busby. . * Karg, Barbara; Spaite, Arjean (2007). ''The Everything Pirates Book: A Swashbuckling History of Adventure on the High Seas''. Avon, MA: Adams Media. . * Jolly, Arthur M (2013). ''Long Joan Silver''. Los Angeles: YouthPLAYS, Inc. .

Further reading

* Stevenson, Robert Louis; Colvin, Sidney, Sir (1899). ''Letters to his family and friends''. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. .

External links

John Silver
on IMDb
''Treasure Island''
on ''The Mercury Theatre on the Air'': July 18, 1938
Basil Rathbone stars in ''Treasure Island''
Columbia Masterworks, 1944
''Treasure Island''
on ''Lux Radio Theatre'': January 29, 1951
Download ''Treasure Island''
on Tale Spinners for Children
The 1989 BBC Radio ''Treasure Island''
on Archive.org {{DEFAULTSORT:Silver, John Adventure film characters Fictional amputees Literary characters introduced in 1883 Fictional chefs Fictional English people Fictional pirates Fictional quartermasters Fictional Royal Navy personnel Male literary villains Male characters in animation Male characters in film Male characters in literature Male characters in television Treasure Island characters Treasure Planet characters