In my post The Origin of Pirate Latitudes? I speculated that a novel Michael Crichton mentioned he was working on in his autobiography Travels was Pirate Latitudes. Crichton, while describing a 1982 trip to Jamaica, wrote:
For many years I had been working on a book about seventeenth-century Jamaica, and now I wanted to visit this museum.
As I’ve mentioned before, I thought it was likely that the book was a novel, and any novel about Jamaica in the 17th century would probably contain pirates, given their prominence in the locale at that time.
Recently I discovered a March 1979 American Film article “Ready When You Are, Dr. Crichton” by Patrick McGilligan. From the article:
His future calendar is just as wide-ranging: Crichton will write a contemporary story set in Africa, his first novel in roughly three years; he will direct a thriller for Twentieth Century-Fox about television commercials; he will try to complete a long-standing book project about Caribbean pirates in the seventeenth century. (p. 53) [Emphasis mine]
Crichton’s novel Grave Descend (published in 1970 under the name John Lange), was set in Jamaica and contained a historical reference to the privateer/pirate Henry Morgan. After reading Pirate Latitudes three times and several biographies of Morgan, I am convinced that Morgan was the real-life model for the character Captain Charles Hunter.
Given the familiarity with Jamaica that Crichton demonstrated in Grave Descend, he might have been thinking about (if not actually working on) the novel Pirate Latitudes as early as the late 1960s.
Another question to ponder--did Crichton, an avid scuba diver, ever dive at Port Royal, Jamaica? The city was struck by a horrific earthquake in 1692, and two-thirds of the city sank into the sea. It was excavated by marine archeologists in the early 1960s, and people are allowed to dive there with permission from the local authorities. Henry Morgan’s tomb disappeared into the sea because of the earthquake.
Links and more info on Michael Crichton at: