Real-Life Robinson Crusoe Castaway Philip Quarll Part 1

About the real-life Robinson Crusoe Philip Quarll, biography and history of the castaway.


The Castaway: Philip Quarll

Year Marooned: 1675

The sea stood remarkably calm. Seizing this opportunity, though acting against his better judgment, Edward Dorrington--an 18th-century trader from Bristol, England--ordered a small rowboat to be lowered from his anchored ship. He and a small crew pointed the boat toward the shining gem of a Pacific island that beckoned him. Dorrington had a special feeling about this island; he was willing to risk the dangers imposed by its craggy, irregular shoreline and its hazardous ledges in order to prove his instincts correct.

Once ashore, Dorrington was quickly vindicated. On the lush, beautiful island--supposedly uninhabited--was a single, hand-fashioned thatched abode situated near a deep forest. Soon the island's sole resident appeared. He was an old man, an old Englishman to be precise, and his flowing white beard and trailing locks covered his shoulders and naked belly. At his side stood a most companionable monkey, who looked on as the old man prepared dinner for welcome guests--soup, meat, and fish--all set out on a tablecloth made of a ship's sail and served up in plates of gleaming seashell. Later, Dorrington remarked that the meal surpassed anything he had ever eaten in his native England. It was a masterpiece of simplicity, created by a man keenly in touch with his environment.

The island's inhabitant was Philip Quarll, a former sailor, trader, husband, vagabond. Shipwrecked in 1675, Quarll presided for 50 years as solitary monarch over this tiny island of monkeys and pomegranate fields far off the coast of Mexico. However, lonely as Quarll's life could be, he made it clear to his guests that he had long since ceased to think of himself as a victim. Now, presumably rescued, Quarll carefully explained that he had no intention of abandoning his island cell. In the slow course of a half-century, the shipwrecked stranger had become a self-sufficient hermit.

This evolution from desolate isolation to regal solitude was not easily understood by Dorrington and crew. Quarll explained: "I was shipwrecked, thanks to my Maker, and was cast away. Were I made emperor of the universe, I would not be concerned with the world again, nor would you require me, did you but know the happiness I enjoy out of it." As proof of his sincerity (and sound mind), Quarll handed Dorrington his "memorial"--a tidy bundle of rolled parchment diaries. This was Quarll's paean to self-reliance and faith in the Lord, a message to the world of men and events from a former participant now happily residing in a remote and marginal corner of existence.

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