James Cook was a British navigator and explorer, famous for sailing the Pacific Ocean, discovering Australia, circumnavigating New Zealand, mapping faithfully the maritime borders of USA and Canada, among other great deeds.
Many men were famous for navigating the oceans, but Cook caught my attention for his humble origin: his father was a farmer from Marton, North Yorkshire, a place 16 km apart from the sea. The boy learned how to read and write with the proprietress of the land his family used to work. Mathematics soon followed in a local school but, when he was 12, he was forced to stop studying. A couple of years later, after working in a collier ship, he began to study the basics to be a commander: algebra, geometry, trigonometry, navigation and astronomy. He was also a very talented and competent mapper, which was rapidly noticed by the merchant navy. His fierce determination made him the incredible figure he is now known to be!
He is also credited for inventing the word "tattoo" (though, in his journal, he wrote "tattow"), an onomatopoeia based on the sounds the thorns made when marking the skin of natives with ink. Captain Cook was killed in 1776 by Hawaiian natives, in a fight with his crew.