Read The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic by Edward Beauclerk Maurice Lawrence Millman Online


At sixteen, Edward Beauclerk Maurice impulsively signed up with the Hudson's Bay Company -- the company of Gentleman Adventurers -- and ended up at an isolated trading post in the Canadian Arctic, where there was no communication with the outside world and only one ship arrived each year. But he was not alone. The Inuit people who traded there taught him how to track polarAt sixteen, Edward Beauclerk Maurice impulsively signed up with the Hudson's Bay Company -- the company of Gentleman Adventurers -- and ended up at an isolated trading post in the Canadian Arctic, where there was no communication with the outside world and only one ship arrived each year. But he was not alone. The Inuit people who traded there taught him how to track polar bears, build igloos, and survive ferocious winter storms. He learned their language and became completely immersed in their culture, earning the name Issumatak, meaning “he who thinks.”In The Last Gentleman Adventurer, Edward Beauclerk Maurice relates his story of coming of age in the Arctic and transports the reader to a time and a way of life now lost forever....

Title : The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic
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ISBN : 9780618773589
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 416 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic Reviews

  • Tom Johnson
    2019-02-25 14:18

    The Last Gentleman Adventurer – what book do I read now? What can possibly take the place of Edward’s gem. He was a true gentleman, worthy of admiration. The news today is so chock-full of disgusting examples of ignorant, selfish, cruel men. A man like Edward Beauclerk Maurice, a combination of humility, grace, and a reverence for the dignity of others is regrettably rare. The following quotes are from (a word of advice; don’t read this until after you’ve read the book. Spoilers, that aren’t exactly spoilers, will lessen the impact of the story.)“Maurice himself would probably have winced at the title, which might seem to claim more credit and importance for himself than he believed was fair. He was deeply conscious of what he believed was his very modest role in a land, and among a people, whose qualities were far more astonishing than anything to which he — a shy schoolboy with almost no outdoor experience — could have laid claim to. His own title, Igloo Behind the Wind, was meant as a tribute to the Inuit, whom he admired and regarded as the real heroes of his book.”The book was published posthumously. I can only hope than no one mucked with Edward’s writing for anything more than the title. (Marketing must have its way.) the events in the book occurred in 1930 - 1935. Edward arrived in Baffin Island at the age of sixteen. The crux of the book, when Edward, on his own at the age of twenty-one, managed the Hudson Bay Company’s trading post at Frobisher Bay, relates a story embracing all the finest qualities of human-kind.Again, from the review by Russell A. Potter, “Although the back–story is missing from the book's publicity, Maurice had completed his book decades ago, only to find it rejected by publishers for several reasons, chiefly its length.” I find this flabbergasting. Idiots! Then again, Decca rejected the Beatles. Like the proverbial turtle on a post, how some people manage to rise to the level wherein they are granted the authority to make such profoundly blockheaded decisions is a complete mystery. “That it has finally reached print only just after his death at the age of 90, might seem to be bittersweet victory — but the real tragedy would have been had it remained unpublished. For “The Last Gentleman Adventurer” stands almost alone, not only among Arctic reminiscences, but among memoirs of any kind; its clarity and grace of tone seem like messengers from another, more eloquent world…and yet the emotional tone of the book is so unprepossessing, so utterly without affect, that the reader is hardly conscious of having been swept away.” And swept away I was. At one point in the story, I wept. I grieved along with Edward. I know, I know – empathy, the liberal’s curse. It has been my good fortune to have read several books capable of producing such emotion. It has been a good-while since the last. Had Edward succeeded in having Gentleman Adventurer published in good-time, we may very well have been treated to more of his writing. Who knows, perhaps an unpublished MS remains hidden. Edward Beauclerk Maurice was born in Somerset in 1913. After his experiences in the Arctic, he spent the war years in the New Zealand Navy, finally returning to England to live the rest of his years in Croydon and Sussex with his wife and three daughters. He had settled into the quiet life of a bookseller in a small English village and died in 2003. There is scant information on his life. A shame, as a man of his caliber is a rarity.Bits and pieces: Edward was in the last group of young men to be apprenticed to the HBC for war soon followed and then, post war, the world changed. Edward’s father most likely committed suicide. Hard times followed. The fatherless family was left in dire straits. The apprenticeship offered Edward an honorable way out and better yet, the Arctic was of great interest to him. At 16, Edward was released from a schooling regimen that aped a prisoner’s life. His mother, sister, and two brothers all eventually wound up in New Zealand. Favorite interesting note: Eskimo children were not disciplined out of fear that doing so would offend the child’s guardian spirit. The spirit would perhaps have been of a former grandparent. It was this spirit that truly looked after the welfare of the child and was therefore of supreme importance. It simply would not do to offend such a powerful force of good in the child’s life. The first two years of Edward’s apprenticeship was spent at Pang, the foremost trading post of Baffin Island. It was at Pang that Edward learned the Inuit language and most of the skills he would need when he was sent on to Frobisher Bay where, as the lone white man, Edward ran the small post. His year at Frobisher Bay comprises the heart and soul of the book. And that is the best way to phrase it as Edward’s book is full of heart and represents the essence of the human soul. Edward’s strict upbringing in Victorian manners and morality provides many an amusing moment when he is cast headlong into a most alien culture. Being a young man, he adapted to a life with the beguiling ladies of the local clan. He describes those events most humbly. The ladies all had their eyes on the young kabloona. Edward was easily manipulated and clearly overmatched. Edward was aware of this “problem” but forever a step behind. Baffin Island, from early October to late June, a shelf of ice extended for miles from its shores assuring total isolation for nine months of the year. No radio transmitter, poor reception on an old beat up radio receiver, only one station that would broadcast once a week for ten minutes, no aircraft, a world that in the depth of the Arctic winter would shrink to a five-meter circle around the stove. Death, disease, and the ever-present dangers of life at its most extreme makes for an absorbing tale. Oblivion could easily be but a step awayFrom the New York Times book review, “Mr. Maurice flinched only once, after being served chunks of seal meat from a pot in the tent of a hunter and realizing, soon after, that the cooking vessel also served as a chamber pot for the baby of the family. "I lay awake considering the implications of this discovery for a long time," he writes, "but finally fell asleep, taking cold comfort from the thought that it is only possible to die once." Ah yes, the forever efficient Eskimo viewed the baby’s chamber pot and the family cooking pot as a needless redundancy. In truth, the level of cleanliness varied from household to household as well as from clan to clan. The area was vast, the population miniscule. One was always working from a very small sample size. Being of a kind heart, the hunting and trapping were not something that Edward regaled in but he did his duty as lives depended on fresh meat and the furs of the white Arctic fox were the whole purpose of being for a Hudson Bay trader. Edward’s story had many a dramatic moment but never felt contrived. His writing of his Arctic romance with the endearing Innuk, beneath the aurora borealis, was heartfelt and done with a deft touch. This very human book left this reader with a sliver of hope for the future. If only we could learn to choose leaders that display a such a sense of empathy and respect for others. Why is that so difficult? Of the Inuit women, many excelled in the same skills as the men; hunting, trapping, handling the dogs, setting up camp. And then there were their own gender specific duties; the sewing and softening of the skins to fashion warm clothing and the never-ending, demanding chore of maintaining the oil lamp. A clever and resourceful woman was a man’s first need. A truly successful hunter would have two wives. The first wife would generally assist in choosing the second wife. Favorite paragraph; page 361, “That same day Rebecca came over to say that she thought some of the dogs ought to be fitted out with boots to protect their sensitive pads from injury on the rough ice. She and Innuk went through the team one by one to decide which of them were in need of this protection concluding that Rebecca should make eight pairs of booties.” Bless the dogs.

  • Leslie
    2019-03-04 17:27

    This book took forever for me to read because I kept setting it aside for more "shiny" books. But even so, I did eventually finish it because it really was perfect bedtime reading- nothing too gosh-awful happened, though there are plenty of tragedies described in it's pages. You see, this is about a sweet English teenager who is compelled by poverty to sign up to go work in frigid Innuit country and stay there in astonishingly spartan conditions facing all sorts of dangers on a daily basis. Though he certainly suffered a lot, the feeling I most noticed was one of genuine affection for the natives and respect for their culture and ingenuity. Of course it's all true. It all happened between the wars. He was a lovely person and I think surprised them all with his knack for language and getting along with the Innuit so successfully.

  • Rebecka
    2019-02-24 18:25

    This is an outstanding memoir about an outstanding guy. Both the end of the book and the introduction, with comments on how the Inuit communities Maurice describes no longer exist, are quite saddening since the rest of the book is basically a feel good story about rather nice and cozy adventures in the Arctic with incredibly friendly natives. I just wish there would have been pictures!

  • Pam Walter
    2019-03-20 17:25

    What an adventure Edward Beauclerk Maurice spins here in creating Edward Mauricel of the Hudson's Bay Company who spends 1 year with the Inuit people in a remote outpost off the coast of Baffin Island. The novel is charming informative and fascinating. The title spells it all. His character is The Last Gentleman Adventurer.

  • Ladonna
    2019-03-13 14:35

    I love this book,I love going with Edward Beauclerk Maurice, back into the nineteen twenties, being stuck in the arctic circle of Foxland and Baffin Island, and making a go of living among the eskimos. It takes me away from anything current, or business as usual in life, just being transported into snow makes me sleep well at night. I love the dogs, the women, the austerity of the life in the arctic.. the descriptions of the meat and the igloos, the cache' of food, the hazard..the peace. Transported from the warmth of my bed.I will miss the cold and the ice white.The sweet bachelor, and the era.

  • james
    2019-02-26 22:27

    This book is about a young British man, who at age 17, in the year 1930, signs a 5-year contract with the Hudson Bay Company to manage stores in Northern Canada. He thinks that to do his job properly, he must learn the Inuit language and customs. It's a coming-of-age book, but also a reflexion of a way of life that is no more. I think this one will stay with me for a long time.

  • Bob
    2019-02-26 16:17

    An adventure story that is appealing on a number of different levels, Maurice's story also serves as an unusual ethnography of the Innuit people, not written from the point of view of a social scientist for whom the people of the two villages he lives in are informants, but from that of a businessman and neighbor who wants to help his friends, clients, and suppliers. The events take place in Hudson's Bay during the early 1930's, and In the end, what seems most exotic is European civilization, suffering the Great Depression, and the rise of totalitarian governments while the resourceful and friendly Innuit put their whole energies into simply staying alive. A bonus: the book is extraordinarily funny in places.

  • Lacy
    2019-03-02 20:27

    Marvelous! An illuminating account of an enterprising Englishman in the early 20th Century as he navigates the customs and norms of Inuit life in the Arctic. Edward Beauclerk Maurice’s unfettered narrative on his years spent under the employment of the Hudson’s Bay Company transports the reader to the furthest navigable corners of Frobisher Bay skidding alongside dogsleds, battling waves on seal hunts and most vividly sitting in tents and snow houses as he builds relationships with the Inuit.

  • Lee
    2019-02-28 16:13

    I'm guessing that there must have been something extraordinary about Edward Mauricel . I don't know too many 16-year olds who would be as tough. In the spring of 1930 in England, as the world was slipping into the Great Depression, his single-parent family had few good prospects. Edward made a decision that propelled his own life toward an unknown future while freeing his mother and sister to begin afresh. He was just 16 years old when he signed a 5-year contract with the Hudson's Bay Company to apprentice at a fur trading post in the snowy wilds of Canada. Edward not only lasted those five years but he did so successfully and manfully, while his pay advance helped his family to find a better life in New Zealand.Many years later Edward wrote The Last Gentleman Adventurer (Houghton Mifflin, 2004), a thoughtful and well-composed narrative of his 5-year service with the Hudson's Bay Company. His approach to coping with isolated fur trading posts was to learn the Eskimo language and become fully engaged in the lives of the native people. He kept account records, learned the company rules and policies, and made decisions that were wise beyond his years. He gained the trust of the Eskimo groups with whom he interacted, administering and receiving first aid, offering cross-cultural explanations, playing, and learning to hunt, trap, and survive in the Arctic. Edward's story is amusing, informative, filled with insights into Eskimo society, and a definite good read.

  • M Rothenbuhler
    2019-03-16 16:22

    Apparently written when the author was in his 90's, about his life 70 years ago in the frozen north - if true (and it seems quite authentic), he had quite a memory and an eye for detail.Maurice catapulted rather impetuously from English boarding school to the Hudson's Bay Company. He started out fairly mature, but definitely and subtly becomes a very responsible man within a couple of years. His memories of the Eskimos - "the People" - are the main subject of his story, although there is seriously detailed information about the geography and basic survival skills needed in the Arctic.I was disappointed that, after holding out for traditional moral standards for a long duration, he eventually fell into the "temporary spouse" pattern of the Eskimos. It seems he decided that what is right in one culture is not necessarily right in another.I'd have loved another story about how he left and ended up in New Zealand. He may have had the story in him, but passed away before writing it.Towards the end the details of hunts and such got a little tedious for me. That may be my failing. In any event the ending disappoints. He has indeed gotten too involved with the Eskimos, but sails away rather abruptly as he knew he always would. It struck me as rather soul hardening, rather than positive or enriching. Perhaps he felt that way, too, as he wrote fairly wistfully about his experiences seventy years later.

  • Lisa Kearns
    2019-02-25 16:18

    Many of the old books of this genre I read are written as if the natives are children or savages who need conversion, education and enlightenment. Edward Beauclerk Maurice impressed me with his acceptance of the culture and beliefs of the Inuit/Eskimo people among which he lived for several years. He learned their language and lived among them, sharing their food, clothing and homes, meanwhile growing from a teenager into a man. Maurice recounts his years as a clerk at a Hudson Bay trading post with so much honesty, self deprecating humor and respect that you can't help but like him. Because he was so young (16) when he was first apprenticed to the Hudson Bay Company, he relied on the older men in the village to teach him to hunt, trap, fish and survive. Eventually he becomes a respected man and hunter, but he was reassigned unwillingly to another post every year until his contract was fulfilled.I thought it was sad that he didn't return to the Arctic later in his life, and it's unfortunate that this is the only book he wrote about his experiences.After I finished the book, I re-read the forward by Lawrence Millman. I got a lot more out of it after getting to know the characters and the story.

  • Marian
    2019-03-01 22:23

    The NY Times reviewed this book in 2005 and it went on my must read list then. But I could never find it at the library. I recently got it on Kindle. Here is the Times' review opening: "In 1930, a desperate year, Edward Beauclerk Maurice, an English schoolboy, took a desperate step. Inspired by a documentary on the Canadian Arctic, he signed up for a five-year apprenticeship with the Hudson's Bay Company." Beau was 16. His family had left or was planning to emigrate to New Zealand but he did not want to be a farmer which was the job his older brothers already in New Zealand arranged for him and went to the other end of the world. The Hudson Bay Company had trading posts manned by "Adventurers" who traded goods for furs. Beau learned the trade and was eventually on his own. He respected the natives greatly and in time they respected him. For one thing, he learned the language as soon as he could. That in itself was unusual among the Gentleman Adventurers.This was the only book Edward Beauclerk Maurice wrote and he waited until his old age to do so. Unfortunately he died before it was published. What a story, I loved it.

  • David Hughes
    2019-03-25 21:19

    A genuinely extraordinary book: the story of a sixteen-year-old English boy who, in the early twentieth century, had to leave home to support his destitute family. On impulse, he signed up with the Hudson Bay Company. The book recounts his five years as a fur-trader among the Eskimo (as they were then known), learning their ways and language and gradually becoming accepted as an equal in a society and culture that are now lost forever.It is a powerful account on many levels. It is the story of a youngster's rise to manhood. It is a detailed anthropological document. It is a story of powerful passions, of love and hate, of life and death, and of the timeless struggle for survival in the austere beauty of the Arctic landscape. Most of all, it is an beautifully-written elegy of love and longing for a vanished time and a vanished people, penned by an old man in memory of the bright days of his youth.

  • Nancy Hammons
    2019-03-12 20:22

    Having been in the Navy, I've traveled a bit to places that are on maps, but many people don't go there. I've never been to the Arctic, but I have been to Iceland and a short stop in Greenland, because of that I really wanted to read this book. This book is a wonderful look at a bygone way of life. It spans the time from 1930 to 1939 when Mr. Maurice left the Hudson's Bay Company to serve in the New Zealand Navy during WWII. Mr. Maurice made friends with the Inuit people, learned their language. From the cover "He learned their language and became so immersed in their culture and way of life that children thought he was Inuit himself." Inside the front cover there is a map of the area he covered in his service to Hudson's Bay Company, inside the back cover is the contract he signed with the Company.I highly recommend this book.

  • Lara
    2019-03-20 15:32

    Really compelling, well-told story of a sixteen year-old boy who goes to the Canadian Arctic and spends five years working and living with the Inuit. It's sad and funny and fascinating, and the only complaint I have is that I would have liked to hear about what happened when Maurice left his friends and was no longer employed by Hudson's Bay Company. Did he have trouble readjusting to life away from the Inuit people and the Arctic? What was it like reuniting with his family in New Zealand? I also wondered if there were things he left out of his story, mainly concerning his relationship with Innuk and Rebecca. In any case though, this is terrific, and definitely well worth a read.

  • Daniel Milano
    2019-03-06 20:24

    Probably one of the most endearing biography I have read in a long time. This is the story of a poor young man who eventually finds himself,in charge of a commercial outpost in the deep north within an eskimo community, at the turn of this century. What follows is a story of grace, warmth, humility and adventures. A profoundly humane person E.W. returned to England eventually and never spoke once to anyone about his adventures, until he felt ready to share them with dignity and modesty. A true gentleman. A member of a dying breed.

  • Alicia
    2019-02-26 22:09

    Published just before his death, this is a snapshot of several of the years - beginning in 1930 - that Maurice spent in remote Canada working for the Hudson Bay Company. Left alone with the local population for the majority of the time, he writes of learning to speak the local language, dogsledding for days to bring food to a starving camp, hunting and caring for the entire camp during a flu outbreak, and much more. It's thoughtfully done, a careful portrait of an extremely unique experience.

  • John Benson
    2019-03-10 18:22

    The author wrote this book shortly before his death in 2003 about his time in northern Canada as a very young (he began at age 16) employee of the Hudson Bay Company in the 1930s. He wrote about his strong connections with the Inuit people and how they helped him grow into a man. It is a wise and thoughtful book and brings out how both the Inuit learned to understand him and how he immersed himself in their culture.

  • Allison
    2019-03-26 14:28

    I'll be honest. I'm in the midst of this book & I really enjoy reading the subject matter - but it is so straight forward & almost monotone at times that I lose the drive to see it through & see what happens. Perhaps because I know the author survives it all well enough to write the book.I recommend it if you're in the mood for a stodgy memoir that doesn't raise much of a fuss.

  • Lee
    2019-02-27 16:16

    Insightful look at the life of subsistent and trader dependent Northeastern Canadian Eskimos in the 1930's. A young Englishman comes of age and learns to live as a semi-subsistent hunter and fisher. Engrossing memoir of culture and struggles of the Inuit. The ultimate hunting and fishing story about life in the Canadian Arctic.

  • Mary
    2019-02-24 19:37

    This is a true account of a young man humble enough to know he has alot to learn from a different culture. Through many hardships with weather, illness, and hunting, he put his friendship with the Innuit people first, and they all seemed to profit by working in cooperation. The book gets off to a slow start, but rewards the patient reader.

  • Vicki
    2019-03-11 17:33

    I enjoyed this book. It sheds light on a way of life that many of us will never live, and probably don't know much about. I had no idea there were so many people living "up north" other than eskimos. The author left home in England right at the beginning of the Depression to take on this job. He was just 16 when he left. I am sure he grew up quickly in those treacherous conditions.

  • Audra
    2019-03-04 22:14

    I really enjoyed this book. If a 3.75 were an option, that's what I'd give it... but it's not quite a 4. Having been to similar regions of the Arctic and met Innuit people in the Native villages of Alaska made it all the more real for me. I thought the beginning and end dragged a little, but the middle 250 pages are FABULOUS. Highly recommended!

  • Sarah
    2019-02-25 19:28

    I wish he had told more of his story, but Maurice spins a tale of his first few years working for the Hudson Bay Company - just as it was sputtering out in the first half of the 1900s. Don't read this when it's already cold outside - the stories of the ice and snow will just make you chillier. Probably good for a hot summer day.

  • Sharon Zink
    2019-02-24 17:13

    This man came of age in the Arctic in a position of some authority. The book recounts his adventures from the time he came to eastern Canada among the Inuit people until he was reassigned for the second time to another post in the Arctic. Very interesting and well-written.

  • BarbraW
    2019-03-05 22:09

    At age 16, Edward Beauclerk Maurice signed on to five years with the Hudson's Bay Company, and shipped out from his home in England to his new post in the Arctic. His memoir is up front and readable, and his stories of life with the Inuit are amazing. Highly recommended.

  • Ann
    2019-03-20 18:27

    I loved this true memoir of a young and naive English kid living in the Arctic in 1930+ or -, working for Hudson Bay CO., enjoying the Inuit people and learning their ways and language. He's an amazing, humble, intelligent person, a beautiful writer with an open mind and sense of humor.

  • Irene
    2019-03-14 15:36

    An extremely exciting and fascinating situation and story with great potential, unfortunately written in a very boring prose style that makes arctic adventure about as thrilling as rearranging my sock drawer. A disappointment of a book that might make a good film.

  • Jane
    2019-03-13 20:23

    Unfortunately, this is the only book by this author. It's thoughtful and thought provoking and ends up being really charming. He steps into a new world, totally different from his own and you step into it with him.

  • Matt
    2019-03-18 19:22

    This memoir was so engrossing it made life in the arctic sound like a good idea. Wy wasn't I offered an opportunity to manage a Hudson Bay Company trading post when I graduated from high school?