Name of the author: Gavin Maxwell
Name of the lessonMijbil the Otter
Gavin Maxwell was a Scottish author, "aristocrat, adventurer, naturalist, conservationist, secret agent, shark hunter, racing driver, painter and social renegade". He was born on July\(15\), \(1914\), in Elrig, Scotland, where his family had held estates for centuries.
Maxwell was the youngest son of Lieutenant-Colonel Aymer Maxwell and Lady Mary Percy, the fifth daughter of the seventh Duke of Northumberland. His paternal grandfather, Sir Herbert Maxwell, \(7\)th Baronet, was an archaeologist, politician, and natural historian.
Maxwell was educated at Stowe School and the University of Oxford and became a freelance journalist. He also served with the Scots Guard in World War \(II\).
Maxwell bought the island of Soay in \(1945\) (or \(1946\)) to establish a factory to process shark oil. He eventually sold it to his business partner's wife (Jeanne Geddes) after the failure of the business. However, he wrote about his failed attempt in the book, Harpoon at a Venture, also published as Harpoon Venture (\(1952\)).
Maxwell's prolonged stay in Sicily resulted in two fine books. While the book God Protect Me from My Friends, also published as Bandit, (\(1956\)) was about the bandit Salvatore Giuliano, The Pains of Death (\(1959\)) was on the poverty-stricken lives of the islanders.
In \(1956\), Maxwell spent time in the reed marshes of Southern Iraq with explorer Wilfred Thesiger. One of the two outcomes of his stay was the publication of the book, A Reed Shaken By The Wind - a Journey Through the Unexplored Marshlands of Iraq (\(1959\)). It was later republished under the title People of the Reeds. The book was an account of his travels among the marsh dwellers of southern Iraq. The New York Times book reviewer described it as "near perfect".
The other outcome of his journey was the arrival of the otter named Mijbil to Scotland and in his life.
Maxwell next moved to Sandaig (known as "Camusfeàrna" in his works). It was a small community on a remote part of the Scottish mainland. The place became the primary setting of his "otter books". Ring of Bright Water (\(1960\)) was the first in the trilogy of "Otter Books", followed by The Rocks Remain, published in \(1963\), and Raven Seek Thy Brother in \(1969\).
Of all his works, Ring of Bright Water is by far his most famous, having sold over a million copies worldwide. The book is an account of his life with his otters Mijbil, Edal, and Teko in the wild, remote corner of Wester Ross. However, after the book's success, his newfound stardom did not sit well with him, and the sequels became poorly conceived and received.