Skip to content ↓

The Last Gentleman Adventurer

Book Reviews Collection cover image

When he was just sixteen years old, Edward Beauclerk Maurice signed up with the Hudson’s Bay Company and was sent from his native England to an isolated trading post in the Canadian arctic as one of the Company’s Gentleman Adventurers. A million miles from nowhere, there was no communication with the outside world (beyond the very occasional, very faint radio broadcast) and a ship arrived only once each year. Maurice’s job was to trade with the Inuit people who lived nearby, accepting the furs they brought to him and in turn providing them with the goods they came to want and need: medicine, boats, gasoline, tobacco and guns. Where many of the Gentleman Adventurers took advantage of their clientele, Maurice became enamored with the Inuit lifestyle and became like one of them. They taught him how to track and hunt, to build igloos and to depend on the land to provide. He learned their language and their culture, even taking an Inuit wife.

Like so many others, Maurice’s career was interrupted by the Second World War and he left the north to serve in the New Zealand Navy. When the war ended he settled into a small English village and became a bookseller. He never returned to the arctic. Though he wrote The Last Gentleman Adventurer decades ago it was consistently refused by publishers until just a few years ago. Sadly, Maurice died in 2003 just as the book was being readied for publication. It was his only book.

The Last Gentleman Adventurer is a fascinating account, not so much as a biography but for a light anthropological study of a stone age people as they are suddenly introduced to the industrialized powers. It is amazing to see just how quickly they become dependent on things they wouldn’t have been able to dream of just a few short years before. It is also amazing and even shocking to see the paternalism that was transparent to people in the early part of the last century but so clear to us today. Maurice goes to the arctic believing in the superiority of his culture and, though he comes to respect the Inuit, he always regards them almost as children dependent on his care. Whether the Inuit were better off before or after the arrival of the British is debatable.

A book that will not provide or demand opportunities to think deeply, The Last Gentleman Adventurer is, nevertheless, both fun and fascinating. It satisfies as entertaining biography and as enlightening anthropology. I’m glad I took the time to read it.


  • Do Not Envy the Wicked

    Do You Envy the Wicked?

    It takes a long time for sinful instincts to become pure, for tendencies toward what is evil to be transformed into tendencies toward what is good, lovely, and pleasing to God. The man who quits drugs will still react when he catches a whiff and the woman who gave up alcoholism will still struggle when…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 19)

    A La Carte: The golden rule for hard conversations / Seven reasons you shouldn’t ignore beauty / The early church on entertainment / The uselessness of prayer / A thousand wheels of providence / Impossible, hard, and easy / and more.

  • Our Salvation Through Christ

    This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers and this post is adapted from The Kindness of God by Nate Pickowicz (© 2024). Published by Moody Publishers. Used by permission. Just like the Old Testament, the New Testament teaches that this wonderful salvation is extended to us as a kindness. Paul opens his letter…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 18)

    A La Carte: The pursuit of (which) happiness? / Don’t hastily choose elders / The evangelistic nature of awe / What you read builds who you are / Till he was strong / A father’s threads of living faith / Logos deals / and more.

  • Lets Hear It For the Second Parents

    Let’s Hear It For the Second Parents

    While today we tend to associate step-parents with divorce, in previous centuries they were almost exclusively associated with death and with either widow- or widowerhood. In an era in which lifespans were shorter and, therefore, a greater number of parents died while their children were still young, there was a distinct and honored role for…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (June 17)

    A La Carte: Honor good fathers and bad fathers alike? / Don’t give up, dad / How I respond to pride month / 5 myths about the pro-life movement / A seminar on biblical counseling / How do I know if I’m one of the elect? / Kindle deals / and more.