Types of adventurers
There are many different historical and modern figures who may be classed as adventurers. It all depends on how you define ‘adventurer’: explorer, entrepreneur, risk-taker, hero, heroine, decision-maker… Some might say that Queen Elizabeth the First of England was an adventurer. When she took the throne, England was not a secure, settled country. No one thought a mere woman could rule successfully over it and she was encouraged to marry. However, she won the day and the heart of the nation and went on to become one of the longest-ruling monarchs in English history. Some might say that the likes of Shackleton, Cook and Scott of the Antarctic were adventurers. They were explorers, it’s true, and in that sense it may make sense to say they were adventurers. Nowadays it can be harder to find real explorers: there is simply less to explore than there used to be; much of the world has been mapped. Would it be fair to say that Sir Edmund Hillary was an adventurer when he became the first person to scale Everest, with Sherpa Tensing? Or Neil Armstrong when he set foot on the moon? And what about modern day entrepreneurs such as Sir Richard Branson? Surely no one can deny that to attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon (or a boat, etc) is an adventure?
T. E. Lawrence
Perhaps one of the best-known adventurers is Thomas Edward Lawrence – otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia. Born in 1888, Lawrence became a soldier and eventually achieved fame as a writer. His book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (published in 1926) described how he contributed to the organisation of the Arab uprisings against the Turks, which began in 1916. His organisational skills and general zeal made the guerilla attacks he organised very successful. They played a major part in contributing to General Allenby’s victorious outcome in Palestine two years later.
Obviously his actions, though praised by some, were reviled by others so in 1922 he joined the Royal Air Force under a false name to hide his identity and avoid threats to his life. There he stayed until he was killed in a road accident involving his motorcycle.
Sir Richard Branson
Richard Branson, the entrepreneur, was born in 1950. Now one of the richest people in the world, he had less academic success at school than one might suppose. Dyslexia meant that he often found school work a challenge. However, he did extremely well at sports and quickly demonstrated his go-getting attitude to life when he set up his first business in his mid-teens. In 1972 he started the Virgin Records company and has gone from strength to strength since then. Virgin now consists of 360 companies.
However, Richard Branson is not just a massively successful business man. He is also an adventurer. Since 1985 he has been involved in several attempts to break various world records. He put in a record time for crossing the Atlantic Ocean by boat, in 1986. The following year he became the first person to cross the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon. In 1991 he broke several records by crossing the Pacific Ocean in a hot-air balloon, covering a distance of nearly 6,700 miles. Since then he has made several attempts to circumnavigate the globe, again in a hot-air balloon, and has set a new world record for crossing the English Channel, not by hot-air balloon, but in an amphibious ‘car’!
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. Some might say that the __________ of Shackleton, Cook and Scott of the Antarctic were adventurers.
2. Would it be fair to say that Sir Edmund Hillary was an adventurer when he became the first __________ to scale Everest, with Sherpa Tensing?
3. Lawrence stayed in the RAF until he was killed in a __________ accident involving his motorcycle.
4. Richard Branson, the __________, was born in 1950.
5. Since 1985 he has been __________ in several attempts to break various world records.
For use with Talking Point worksheets
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