The Pirate’s Daughter: Errol Flynn’s Jamaican Love Affair
In Like Flynn
It’s not easy to create a work of fiction and drop into it a character who was not only real, but so well known that many critics claim a first-hand knowledge of the personality of his character. Yet when Margaret Cezair-Thompson wrote The Pirate’s Daughter and told the story of Errol Flynn and his time in Jamaica, she took on precisely this challenge. That the reviews of her book are generally positive is perhaps the highest compliment of her success.
The Pirate’s Daughter starts with Flynn shipwrecked on his ship Zaca and arriving on a Jamaican beach near Port Antonio. He is keen to lie low, escaping as he is from legal proceedings against him in the United States for sexual misdemeanors. He soon has his own house in Jamaica and promptly falls in love not only with the island, but also with its attractive inhabitants. Ida, a beautiful young girl of 13 and the daughter of Flynn’s driver Eli Joseph, has a serious crush on Flynn. He however ignores her attentions, at least until she reaches the age of 16.
Growing up on Jamaica
Soon enough, Ida is pregnant to Flynn and gives birth to May. The book then follows the life of May as she battles her way through a harsh childhood. Errol Flynn doesn’t stick around (he dies when she is still a child) and May and Ida face various prejudices due to their mixed-race heritage. Ida goes to work in the US while May is left to fight alone, displaying more than a few of the headstrong and reckless character traits of her famous father.
The book has been well received in Jamaica. As she spins out the story of May and Ida, Cezair-Thompson weaves into the tale a rich and colourful depiction of her native Jamaica; of its varied and often spectacular landscapes, of its multi-layered and complex history and most vividly of all of the diversity of the island’s people.
Flynn’s Jamaican Legacy
Some folks in Jamaica would also have raised a wry smile at the theme of Cezair-Thompson’s book. Errol Flynn was a renowned womanizer and there are more than a few middle aged folks on the island who claim to be the offspring of Flynn’s dalliances with local women. If Flynn is a very real character in the story, May is someone with whom quite a few people on the island might identify themselves!
Photo: Donan Raven via Wikimedia Commons
Just like Errol Flynn fell in love with the Jamaica; you too can experience love at first sight with the island when you visit one of the Iberostar Hotels in Montego Bay.