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Lovat Dickson

Wilderness Man

In 1930's Britain, Grey Owl and his stories of life in the Canadian wilderness drew huge audiences. But all was not as it seemed. Rather than being of Indian descent, as he claimed, Grey Owl was actually brought up by two aunts in Southern England. In Wilderness Man: The amazing true story of Grey Owl, Lovat Dickson tells what really happened.

Grey Owl's real name was Archie Belaney. As a child in Hastings he was fascinated by the idea of a life in the wild, and collected his own menagerie in the attic. As he grew up he couldn't hold down a job in England, and set off for the remote parts of Canada, where he achieved some notoriety for his daring and his womanising. He returned to Europe to fight in the World War I, but on his return to Canada things were no longer the same - in the place of the sustainable, Indian style of fur trapping had come mass slaughter of animals by incomers. Grey Owl fell in love with Anahareo, an Iroquois woman, and turned from killing animals to protecting them. He also found that he could make a good living by writing and speaking about his life. Thus he met Lovat Dickson, who published several of Grey Owl's books.

I felt that Dickson's work at finding out the true story of Grey Owl helps to bring home to the reader what life in the wilds must have been like - cut off from civilisation for weeks at a time. I found it a fascinating story and would recommend it highly to all readers.  |  Chronon Critical Points  |  Recent Science Book Reviews