Ben Gunn (Treasure Island)

Benjamin "Ben" Gunn is a fictional character in the Treasure Island novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson.

Benjamin Gunn
Treasure Island character
Jim Hawkins and Ben Gunn
Created byRobert Louis Stevenson


Treasure Island

Ben Gunn is an ex-crewman of Captain Flint's who has been marooned for three years on Treasure Island by his crewmates, after his failure to find the treasure without the map. During his time alone on the island, Gunn develops an obsessional craving for cheese. He first appears in the novel when Jim Hawkins encounters him. Ben treats Jim kindly in return for a chance of getting back to his real home.

Jim leaves Ben Gunn behind but escapes to the Hispaniola on Ben's coracle. Ben appears later making ghostly sounds to delay Long John Silver's party on its search for the treasure, but Silver recognizes his voice, which restores the pirates' confidence. They forge ahead and locate the place where Flint's treasure was buried. The pirates discover that the cache has been rifled and all of the treasure is gone.

The enraged pirates turn on Silver and Jim, but Ben Gunn and several others attack the pirates by surprise, killing two and dispersing the rest. Silver surrenders to Dr. Livesey, promising to return to his "dooty". They go to Ben Gunn's cave home, where Gunn has had the treasure hidden for some months. The treasure is divided amongst Squire Trelawney and his loyal men, including Jim and Ben Gunn (who gets a very small share, £1000 of £700,000 total), and they return to England, leaving the surviving pirates marooned on the island.

Once in England, Gunn manages to spend all his part of the treasure in just a few days and becomes a porter for the rest of his life.

The Adventures of Ben Gunn

Ben Gunn is the main character in The Adventures of Ben Gunn, a prequel to Treasure Island written by R. F. Delderfield. The story follows Ben Gunn from parson's son to pirate and is narrated by Jim in Gunn's words.

Film portrayal

Actors who portrayed Ben Gunn and the film they appeared in
Actor Version
Chic Sale Treasure Island (1934 film)
Geoffrey Wilkinson Treasure Island (1950 film)
Jean Lefebvre Treasure Island (1972 live-action film)
Kaneta Kimotsuki Treasure Island (1978 TV series)
Tony Jessen Treasure Island (1985 film)
Kenneth Colley Return to Treasure Island (TV series)
Yuri Yakovlev Treasure Island (1988 film)
Nicholas Amer Treasure Island (1990 film)
Frank Oz (as Miss Piggy) Muppet Treasure Island
Walter Sparrow Treasure Island (1999 film)
Martin Short Treasure Planet
Leigh Scott Pirates of Treasure Island
Elijah Wood Treasure Island (2012 miniseries)
Chris Fisher Black Sails (TV series)

Other media

In the 1996 Disney film Muppet Treasure Island, this character was feminized as Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy) by Brian Henson and the scriptwriters, in which she is written as Captain Smollett's former fiancée who was jilted at the altar and later became romantically involved with Captain Flint before being marooned and made queen of the native wild boars on the island. By the end of the film, she and Smollett rekindle their relationship and she helps him against Silver's pirate crew.

In Disney's animated film Treasure Planet, Ben Gunn is portrayed as BEN (voiced by Martin Short), an abandoned, whimsical robot who claims to have lost most of his memory (with BEN standing for Bio-Electronic Navigator). Jim and his group meet BEN while exploring the Treasure Planet's forest, and the robot invites them to his house to care for the wounded Captain Amelia. When Silver's pirates corner the group here, using a back-door, Jim and BEN return to the ship in an attempt to recover the map. BEN, working to sabotage the ship's artillery, accidentally turns off the artificial gravity, whereupon Jim and Scroop, who were fighting, threaten to float off into space, which happens to Scroop. Later, Jim and BEN obtain the map. Upon their return, they are captured by Silver, who has already captured Doppler and Amelia. In the stash of treasure, Jim comes across the skeletal remains of Flint himself, holding a missing part of BEN's cognitive computer. Jim replaces this piece, causing BEN to remember that the planet is set to explode upon the treasure's discovery. After narrowly escaping the explosion of the planet, BEN joins Jim's family and is finally seen working in the rebuilt Benbow Inn.

For a time, in London there was an annual production at the Mermaid Theatre, originally under the direction of Bernard Miles, who played Long John Silver, a part he also played in a television version. Comedian Spike Milligan would often play Ben Gunn in these productions.

The Ben Gunn Society album released in 2003 presents the story centered around the character of Ben Gunn, based primarily on Chapter XV "Man of the Island" and other relevant parts of the book.

Ben Gunn was the main inspiration for Herman Toothrot character in Monkey Island game series.

Ben Gunn is portrayed by Chris Fisher in the Starz television series Black Sails. He is first encountered by Captain Flint and his crew when they are captured and imprisoned after landing on an island inhabited by a large group of escaped slaves. Gunn is already a prisoner in the settlement, being the last surviving crew member of an unnamed slave trading vessel.


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