The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Summary and book reviews of The Last Gentleman Adventurer by Edward Beauclerk Maurice, plus links to an excerpt from The Last Gentleman Adventurer and a biography of Edward Beauclerk Maurice.
The Last Gentleman Adventurer
by Edward Beauclerk Maurice
Hardcover: Nov 2005,
Paperback: Nov 2006,
At sixteen, Edward Beauclerk Maurice impulsively signed up with the Hudson's Bay Company -- the Company of Gentleman Adventurers -- and was sent to an isolated trading post in the Canadian Arctic, where there was no telephone or radio and only one ship arrived each year. But the Inuit people who traded there taught him how to track polar bears, build igloos, and survive expeditions in ferocious winter storms. He learned their language and became so immersed in their culture and way of life that children thought he was Inuit himself. When an epidemic struck, Maurice treated the sick using a simple first aid kit, and after a number of the hunters died, he had to start hunting himself, often with women, who soon began to compete for his affections. The young man who in England had never been alone with a woman other than his mother and sisters had come of age in the Arctic.
In The Last Gentleman Adventurer Edward Beauclerk Maurice transports the reader to a time and a way of life now lost forever.
The understated charm of Maurice's storytelling lacks the bravado that the book title might lead one to expect. In fact, the title is not his - he completed his memoir years before his death and his own title was simply Igloo, Behind the Wind - a tribute to the Inuit who he considered the real heroes. However, he was unable to find someone to publish it for decades. When his memoirs were finally published, it was posthumously with a title chosen by his publisher. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Maurice, who died in 2003, recounts his youthful adventures in a graceful style reminiscent of the great 20th-century explorers. Though his tale is somewhat more subdued than their exploits, it proves just as engrossing.
Delightful moments of absurdity....round out this tale of survival. A wholly fascinating, evocative glimpse of a harsh, lost world.
The Telegraph (UK)
Maurice's memoir supplies a fascinating elegy to a vanishing world.
Sunday Tribune (Dublin)
One of those rare writers who will be remembered for turning out one great memoir/travel book . . . He relates these events in a beautiful prose that is quaintly elegant in tone but never archly so . . . Not only a gentleman but a wonderful writer who limited his output to one book, and perhaps that is why it reads so beautifully.
Times Educational Supplement
Maybe he was exceptional, but the charm of his book lies in its modesty; he makes no claims for himself. His concern was to make a record of some amazing adventures and a vanishing way of life; these are woven into an eye-opening narrative that is suffused with kindliness and an attitude to growing up more restrained but more humane than that prevailing today. A gentleman adventurer indeed.
Independent on Sunday - Benedict Allen
A deceptively simple account of how he grew to manhood, shaped on one hand by the brutal elements of the Arctic, on the other by the compassionate communities of Inuit who understood them . . . This is a beautifully unadorned, homespun tale with a lack of self-consciousness rare in travel literature . . . I was charmed.
As spare, gleaming, and exhilarating as the Arctic wastes and the gentle, stoic Eskimos who had mastery of this realm . . . The book evokes the frozen seas, whale hunts, snow plains and storms that intimidated those rash enough to brave this world, and the traditions, myths, and hunting skills that contoured a bygone way of life . . . His translucent prose is a sparkling and moving
If you like reality, The Last Gentleman Adventurer will be your cup of tea: a delicious quaff of it. Savor it!
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
This is a great book about life at remote bases in Canada's far north as seen by a young English boy who went there by himself to see the world and got more than he could have bargained for. Beautifully
A Short History of The Hudson Bay Company Edward Beauclerk Maurice left the Hudson's Bay Company in 1939 to serve in the New Zealand navy during World War II;
after which he became a bookseller in an English village and rarely traveled again. He died in 2003, as
his book was being readied for publication.
The Hudson's Bay Company is still very much in existence, but with 500 retail outlets spread
across Canada this department store retailer has come a long way from its
beginnings in 1670 when King Charles II of Britain granted the lands of the
Hudson Bay watershed to "the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England
trading into Hudson Bay".
During its first century of operation the Hudson's Bay Company established
outposts around the shores of James and Hudson Bays, where natives brought furs
to barter for manufactured goods such as knives, kettles, beads, needles and
blankets. However, by the late 1700s competition was hotting up and they
were forced to expand into the interior with a string of outposts along the
Born on the tundra in the 1950s, Victoria knows nothing but the nomadic life of the Inuit until, at the age of ten, she is diagnosed with tuberculosis and evacuated to a southern sanitarium. When she returns home six years later, she finds a radically different world, where the traditionally rootless tribes have uneasily congregated in small...
Here in his own words is the true story of a forgotten American hero: the cowboy who became our first ace and the first pilot to fly the American colors over enemy lines.
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