Maurice, Edward Beauclerk 1913–2003

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Maurice, Edward Beauclerk 1913–2003

PERSONAL: Born 1913, in England; died 2003.

CAREER: Bookseller. Worked in the Arctic for the Hudson's Bay Company. Military service: Served in the New Zealand Navy during World War II.

WRITINGS:

The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic (autobiography), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Edward Beauclerk Maurice was sixteen years old when he met a missionary from the Canadian Arctic, a visitor to Maurice's boarding school. He was fascinated by a film shown by the missionary, about life in the frozen North. His own family was in difficult circumstances following the death of his father, and soon, Maurice had found employment with the Hudson's Bay Company. Working at a trading post in the remote reaches of the Canadian Arctic, he became deeply involved in the lives of the native Inuits. He was so young that he was nicknamed "The Boy" by the locals. He became fluent in their language, and unlike many of his compatriots, he acquired a great respect for the Inuit culture. He eventually took an Inuit wife, and did his best to aid the people when they were stricken by an epidemic of a deadly influenza. Maurice lived among the Inuits for some ten years before leaving for military service in World War II; he later returned to England where he lived a quiet life as a bookseller for many decades.

Maurice recounted his own story in The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic, which was published posthumously. A Kirkus Reviews writer called it "disarmingly captivating," noting that unlike most polar tales, which pit brave men against savage elements, this book focuses on the humanity of the hunters and their families. The stories, which capture a culture that is now virtually lost, are told "in remarkably clear and detailed prose," added the reviewer. A Publishers Weekly contributor also found the book "engrossing," and credited the author with relating his story in a "graceful style." The vividness and clarity of Maurice's writing was also praised by Andy Solomon, who wrote in the Boston Globe: "As on some da Vinci canvasses, we see no brush strokes here. We see a resourceful, compassionate young gentleman relating the adventure of a lifetime."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Maurice, Edward Beauclerk, The Last Gentleman Adventurer: Coming of Age in the Arctic, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2005.

PERIODICALS

Boston Globe, January 8, 2006, Andy Solomon, review of The Last Gentleman Adventurer.

Entertainment Weekly, November 4, 2005, Joan Keener, review of The Last Gentleman Adventurer, p. 80.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2005, review of The Last Gentleman Adventurer, p. 959.

Publishers Weekly, August 22, 2005, review of The Last Gentleman Adventurer, p. 47.