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Biography & Autobiography Literary

Apostate Englishman

Grey Owl the Writer and the Myths

by (author) Albert Braz

University of Manitoba Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2015
Literary, Canadian, Native American
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2015
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2015
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2019
    List Price

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In the 1930s Grey Owl was considered the foremost conservationist and nature writer in the world. He owed his fame largely to his four internationally bestselling books, which he supported with a series of extremely popular illustrated lectures across North America and Great Britain. His reputation was transformed radically, however, after he died in April 1938, and it was revealed that he was not of mixed Scottish-Apache ancestry, as he had often claimed, but in fact an Englishman named Archie Belaney. Born into a privileged family in the dominant culture of his time, what compelled him to flee to a far less powerful one?

Albert Braz’s Apostate Englishman: Grey Owl the Writer and the Myths is the first comprehensive study of Grey Owl’s cultural and political image in light of his own writings. While the denunciations of Grey Owl after his death are often interpreted as a rejection of his appropriation of another culture, Braz argues that what troubled many people was not only that Grey Owl deceived them about his identity, but also that he had forsaken European culture for the North American Indigenous way of life. That is, he committed cultural apostasy.

About the author

Albert Braz is an assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Literature, Religion, and Film/Media Studies at the University of Alberta.

Albert Braz's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Includes important literary analysis, colourful stories about the man and his life, and keen observations on the issues of indigenous status and cultural appropriation. The controversy that surrounded his identity in the wake of his 1938 death demonstrated that Grey Owl was more than just a man—in 1930 Canada, Grey Owl was also a brand.”

Canada’s History

“An impressively researched and exceptionally well written study, Apostate Englishman is a deftly organized and presented study which is inherently fascinating, informative, and a work of impeccable scholarship from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library 20 Century Biography, Contemporary Cultural Studies, and Literary Criticism reference collections and supplemental studies lists.”

Midwest Book Review

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