Cordingly, David 1938-

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Cordingly, David 1938-

PERSONAL:

Born December 5, 1938, in London, England; son of Eric W.B. (a bishop) and Mary Cordingly; married Shirley Robin; children: Matthew, Rebecca. Education: Studied at Christ's Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex, England, 1948-57; Oriel College, Oxford, M.A., 1960; Sussex University, D.Phil.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Brighton, Sussex, England. Agent—Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Agency, Inc., 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.

CAREER:

Writer, graphic designer, curator. David Ogle Associates, Letchworth, England, graphic designer, 1960-63; Peter Hatch Partnership, Piccadilly, London, England, graphic designer, 1963-65; Paul Hamlyn Publishers, Covent Garden, London, England, book designer, 1965-67; British Museum, London, England, exhibition designer, 1967-71; Royal Pavilion Art Gallery and Museum, Brighton, England, keeper, 1971-78; Museum of London, London, England, assistant director, 1978-80; National Maritime Museum, London, England, keeper of pictures and head of exhibitions, 1980-93.

MEMBER:

Royal Society of Arts (fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS:

Leverhulme Trust Fund award, 1974.

WRITINGS:

Marine Painting in England, 1700-1900, Clarkson Potter (New York, NY), 1974.

Painters of the Sea, Lund Humphries (London, England), 1979.

The Art of the Van de Veldes, Lund Humphries (London, England), 1982.

Nicholas Pocock, 1740-1821, Naval Institute Press (Annapolis, MD), 1986.

Captain James Cook, Navigator, National Maritime Museum (London, England), 1988.

Pirates, Fact and Fiction, Collins & Brown (London, England), 1992.

Life among the Pirates: The Romance and the Reality, Little, Brown (London, England), 1995, published as Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates, Random House (New York, NY), 1996.

Pirates: Terror on the High Seas, from the Caribbean to the South China Sea, Turner (Atlanta, GA), 1996.

Ships and Seascapes: An Introduction to Maritime Prints, Philip Wilson (New York, NY), 1997.

The Complete Book of Maritime Design: A Compendium of Naval Art and Painting, Gramercy Books (New York, NY), 1998.

Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, Random House (New York, NY), 2001.

The Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon—The Biography of a Ship of the Line, 1782-1836, Bloomsbury (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to magazines, including Apollo, Connoisseur, and Art and Antiques Weekly.

SIDELIGHTS:

David Cordingly has written several books about maritime history, including Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates, Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, and The Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon—The Biography of a Ship of the Line, 1782-1836.

In Under the Black Flag, Cordingly separates the often grim facts from the more romantic fictions most people believe about pirates. Buried treasures were uncommon, for example, as was walking the plank; most pirates were vicious killers rather than daring adventurers; and pirates were more likely to die in storms at sea or hanging from a gallows than in a dramatic battle. Cordingly also examines the major pirates of history and literature— such as Long John Silver, Captain Hook, Blackbeard, and Captain Kidd—and explores the various stories both true and false about them. Jay Freeman in Booklist called Cordingly's book "a fascinating narrative," while a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found that "this book will delight and inform." According to Tom Knapp in Rambles Online, Under the Black Flag is "an immensely readable book" and "the best book on pirates I've read yet."

Cordingly examines the many roles women have played in maritime history in Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, a book that Robert C. Jones, writing in Library Journal, described as "a fascinating survey." Cordingly ranges over a wide territory in covering his subject, from seaport prostitutes to the wives waiting for their sailor husbands to return home, and from women who secretly served as sailors by disguising themselves as men to the admirals' wives who managed estates single-handedly while their husbands were off to war. He also documents lesser-known roles, such as women who served as lighthouse keepers, became pirates, or captained ships when their husbands were disabled. Jonathan Yardley, reviewing the book for the Washington Post Book World, found that Cordingly's extensive research "yielded results that are every bit as surprising as they are interesting, informative and, in some instances, amusing." The critic for Publishers Weekly called Women Sailors and Sailors' Women a "delightful volume."

Cordingly's book The Billy Ruffian was published in 2003. "The Billy Ruffian," the sailors' nickname for the ship Bellerophon, was a frigate of seventy-four guns. Independent contributor Christina Hardyment noted that despite its relatively small size, this ship "had one of the most remarkable careers of any of the formidably constructed ‘heart-of-oak’ ships in the British Navy." Cordingly's tale follows this ship from its construction in Chatham to its first action, the Battle of the Nile in 1794, through further battles, such as Trafalgar in 1798, and on to its most momentous day when it took aboard the defeated Napoleon in 1815 following the Battle of Waterloo. "Describing the life of one of the ships that are the essential backdrop to the novels of Patrick O'Brian and C.S. Forester is a brilliant way to extend readers' understanding of those stirring times," commented Hardyment. The same reviewer, while praising the attention to detail regarding the lives of sailors in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, felt that "the great naval actions are the high points of this book."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1996, Jay Freeman, review of Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates, p. 58; December 15, 1996, Jennifer Henderson, review of Pirates: Terror on the High Seas, from the Caribbean to the South China Sea, p. 706.

Burlington Magazine, November, 1986, review of Nicholas Pocock, 1740-1821, p. 834.

Christian Science Monitor, December 18, 1996, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 13.

Esquire, December, 1996, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 40.

Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1996, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 870; January 15, 2001, review of Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, p. 90.

Kliatt, January, 1998, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 30.

Library Journal, August, 1996, David B. Mattern, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 88; February 1, 1997, William F. Young, review of Pirates, p. 95; February 1, 2001, Robert C. Jones, review of Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, p. 107.

Maclean's, October 14, 1996, "No Smooth Sailing for Real-life Pirates," p. 65.

New Yorker, October 14, 1996, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 100.

New York Review of Books, March 6, 1997, Kenneth Maxwell, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 34.

New York Times Book Review, September 15, 1996, Amelie Southwood, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 31.

Publishers Weekly, August 26, 1996, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 88; July 28, 1997, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 72; January 15, 2001, review of Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, p. 58.

School Library Journal, February, 1997, Robert Burnham, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 136; April, 1997, Robert Burnham, review of Pirates, p. 168.

Sea Frontiers, July-August, 1987, Gilbert L. Voss, review of Nicholas Pocock, 1740-1821, p. 313.

Sea History, spring, 1997, review of Pirates, p. 50.

Times Educational Supplement, August 25, 1995, review of Life among the Pirates: The Romance and the Reality, p. 20.

Times Literary Supplement, July 14, 1995, review of Life among the Pirates, p. 10.

Washington Post Book World, September 15, 1996, review of Under the Black Flag, p. 3; March 4, 2001, Jonathan Yardley, review of Women Sailors and Sailors' Women, p. 2.

ONLINE

Independent Online,http://www.independent.co.uk/ (September 24, 2003), Christina Hardyment, review of The Billy Ruffian: The Bellerophon and the Downfall of Napoleon—The Biography of a Ship of the Line, 1782-1836.

Rambles Online,http://www.rambles.net/ (April 5, 2001), Tom Knapp, review of Under the Black Flag.

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Cordingly, David 1938-

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