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Why do pirates have parrots as pets?

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Quick Answer

Pirates are often depicted in film and media as having a pet parrot on their shoulder, but this image is most likely prompted by the description of a fictional character from the book "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson, according to Reference.com. "Treasure Island" was published in 1883 and told a coming-of-age story about a young man, Jim Hawkins, and his adventures with a pirate crew.

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Full Answer

In "Treasure Island," Long John Silver was the name of a one-legged, morally ambiguous pirate who often had a parrot perched on his shoulder. Many other famous pirate images were taken from the book, including black schooners, using an X to mark the spot on a treasure map and exotic tropical islands. These are considered largely fictional inventions that originated from Stevenson's story.

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the book "Treasure Island" with input from both his father and his stepson, Lloyd. Lloyd insisted that his stepfather not include any women in the book, and Stevenson's father suggested a particular scene in which Jim, the central character, hides in an apple barrel, notes Reference.com. Stevenson was paid 100 pounds for the book and 34 pounds, seven shillings and sixpence for a serialization of the story.

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