Madagascar, or Robert Drury’s Journal

A book titled Madagascar; or Robert Drury’s Journal, during fifteen years captivity on that Island was published in England in 1729. In it, Robert Drury described how, almost forty years earlier, he had been shipwrecked off the coast of Madagascar, survived the slaughter of his shipmates by hostile islanders, and then spent the next fifteen years living as a slave, fighting in local wars, taking a wife, and eventually escaping on a slave ship back to England.

The story was accepted as true during the eighteenth century. In fact, it served as one of Europe’s main sources of information about the faraway island of Madagascar. But during the nineteenth century scholars started to question almost everything about it. In particular, there were suspicions that the book was actually a fictional account written by Daniel Defoe, author of Robinsin Crusoe, and that Robert Drury didn't even exist.

However, the controversy has come full circle, because modern scholars suspect the work may not be a hoax after all. In 1996, Mike Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at Sheffield University, published evidence suggesting not only that Drury had lived, but that his description of early 18th century Madagascar was highly accurate... far too accurate to have been invented by Defoe.

Therefore, while it's impossible to say for sure, Robert Drury's Journal may be a case of a factual narrative mistaken for a hoax.


I would suggest that this was written by Defoe and that it was based on Drury's experience. In other words it was not fictional.
Posted by David Dixon  on  Sat May 11, 2013  at  07:18 PM