A former Spike Island resident has been included in Lonely Planet’s list of famous explorers who demonstrated the same curiosity that still keeps people exploring to this day.
One of the most colourful and adventurous characters of the 20th century, Colonel Percy Fawcett spent three years on Spike Island before he set off to explore the deepest Amazon.
A man of many talents, throughout his lifetime Fawcett worked as a British spy, surveyor, a geographer, a jungle adventurer and a celebrated writer.
His lasting fame was noted with the release of ‘The Lost City of Z’ which was released by Brad Pitt's production company in 2017, starring Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett, Robert Pattinson as his fellow explorer, Tom Holland as Fawcett’s son Jack, and Sienna Miller as his wife Nina.
The film portrays his life as told from his own best selling journals and his surviving son's account of his life in the book ‘Exploration Fawcett’.
Fawcett started life in Torquay in south west England and joined the royal artillery corps in 1886. He was later sent to Sri Lanka where he met his wife Nina.
Fawcett was sent to work on Spike Island by the war office in 1903 as part of his duties with the British secret service while working in North America.
After three years on the island, the high ranking officer left in 1906 when the opportunity came to work in Bolivia as chief surrey commissioner.
It was the first of several journeys that involved exploring previously untouched rainforests and rivers to assist in mapmaking and border disputes that would bring him to formulate ideas of mysterious civilization in a lost city he named Z, located somewhere in the Mato Grosso region of Brazil.
Other names included in Lonely Planet’s roll call of great historical travelers were Zheng He, Marco Polo, Gertrude Bell, Ibn Battuta, Leif Erikson, Mansa Musa, and Nellie Bly.
To learn more about Fawcett’s time on the island visit Spike Island website here https://www.spikeislandcork.ie/percy-fawcett