For four hundred years Sir Francis Drake's exploits have fascinated, inspired and entertained. Every age has sought to reconstruct the narrative of the great Elizabethan seafarer: the basis of his fame has shifted continually over the years, from single-handed victor over the Spanish Armada, to hero of commerce, explorer, and ruthless entrepreneur. In each incarnation, however, he has always been portrayed to answer the demands and anxieties of each new era. Here, for the first time, the history of Drake as a cultural icon, and of his myth, is explored, from his appearances in west-country folklore to Elizabethan poetry, from eighteenth-century garden architecture to Victorian pageants and twentieth-century films. There is a particular focus on the `long' nineteenth century, during which Drake's reputation underwent a rigorous reconstruction to present him as a hero of empire.BR> BRUCE WATHEN gained his PhD from Exeter University.