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OH NO CRUSOE! Revealed.. Scots sailor inspiration was boozing, brawling bed-hopper.

Byline: By JAMES HARPER

THE real-life Scots sailor who inspired the story of Robinson Crusoe has been unmasked as a boozing, bedhopping love-rat.

Treasure hunter Alexander Selkirk spent four years marooned on an island off Chile, and his amazing survival against the odds led Daniel Defoe to write the classic novel.

Now - ahead of the 300th anniversary tomorrow of Selkirk's rescue from the island - a new book reveals him as a "rogue and a philanderer".

Author Rick Wilson says: "Selkirk was a brilliant survivor - but he was also selfish, egotistical, selfopinionated and everready to pick a fight."

Rick, a journalist with the Sunday Mirror, says: "He drank a lot and had an eye for the ladies.

"When he died, he left two women - a milkmaid and a pub landlady - scrabbling over two different versions of his will. Both thought they were his wife and both thought they were getting his money."

Selkirk, from Lower Largo, Fife, was dumped in 1704 at the island of Juan Fernandez, 400 miles off Chile, after falling out with the captain of the privateer boat he was sailing on. He survived by living off goats.

Rick, who has trawled through Scottish archives to retrace Selkirk's story, said: "Since I was a boy, I've always thought there must be a great real-life character behind the Robinson Crusoe story.

"Selkirk lived an extraordinary life of buccaneering. He came home from that island a very rich man after some very successful treasure plundering on the way." He died in 1721, aged 45, from yellow fever while an officer on a Royal Navy ship sailing off Africa.

-The Man Who Was Robinson Crusoe is published on February 16 by Neil Wilson Publishing, Glasgow, price pounds 12.95

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Pierce Brosnan as Crusoe in the 1997 film; Rick & book Picture: JOHN NEED
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 1, 2009
Words:303
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