Patrick O'Brian, C S Forester and Captain Marryat all based their literary heroes on Thomas Cochrane, but in the latest lecture at the Maritime Museum on Wednesday 31 October, David Cordingly shows Cochrane's own real life exploits were far more daring and exciting than those of his fictional counterparts.

Thomas Cochrane (1775 ? 1860) was a man of action, whose impulsive nature meant that he was often his own worst enemy. It was this that lay behind his early success, and also behind the stock exchange scandal that saw him blackballed from the City and his beloved country. Taking his wounded pride and his undiminished abilities as a naval commander to South America, he helped liberate Chile, Peru and Brazil from their colonial masters, before returning home to restless retirement.

Drawing on his own travels and wide reading, David Cordingly tells the rip-roaring story of the ultimate romantic hero who helped define his age.

Cordingly was Keeper of Pictures and Head of Exhibitions at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich for 12 years, where he organised such exhibitions as 'Captain James Cook, Navigator', 'The Mutiny on the Bounty' and 'Pirates: Fact and Fiction'. His other books include Life among the Pirates, Heroines and Harlots and the highly praised Billy Ruffian.

In a recent review of Cordingly's new book called 'Cochrane the Dauntless', the Sunday Times newspaper wrote: 'By rights, Thomas Cochrane should be as well known today as Francis Drake ? his biography aims to establish the true worth of the man by measuring what was written about him against what actually happened ? Cordingly relates this breathless succession of events with admirable detachment and calm, testing Cochrane's claims against other records, and generally finding in his favour ? Cochrane's adventures from 1818 to 1825 in Chile, Peru and Brazil are among the most amazing in naval history ?

Looking at Cochrane's life in the round, it is clear that he has been ill-served by recent history. Certainly, he had failings ? his avarice, temper and occasional paranoia can be deeply unattractive. But in his care for his men, in his angry tirades against privilege and on behalf of reform, and above all in his championing of the Latin American cause of freedom from Spanish and Portuguese rule, he rises effortlessly above the ordinary cut of naval hero. Add to that his quite exceptional bravery and his genius for seamanship, and it is clear that Thomas Cochrane deserves a place in the very front rank of British naval history.' Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times.

Experience the adventures yourself at this richly entertaining talk on Wednesday 31 October at 6.30pm. Tickets are available at £6 for lecture only and £15 to include two-course buffet. To book your seats please call 01326 214546.