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Keller, Betty.

Vancouver, Douglas & McIntyre, c1984. 240pp, cloth, $19.95, ISBN 0-88894-439-X. CIP

Grades 12 and up
Reviewed by Ellen Robson

Volume 13 Number 3
1985 May

Betty Keller, a native of British Columbia, has written a second biography (the first being about Pauline Johnson) in addition to her books for drama teachers and a joint effort of the legends of the Chilliwack Indians. It is obvious by the extensive notes, index, and biography that she has done much research on Ernest Thompson Seton, the artist and naturalist, who wrote many animal stories such as Wild Animals I have Known and Lives of Game Animals. This biography does not examine or analyse Seton's work but looks at the private life of a very unusual man.

Keller traces Seton from his birth in England through his childhood in Lindsay, and Toronto, Ontario, his training in London and Paris, to his death in New Mexico. Seton, a conservationist, also established the Woodcraft Indian group that eventually developed in to Boy Scouts of America of which he was the first Chief Scout.

Although his brothers do not agree with this view of his childhood, Seton was highly motivated by a hatred of his father, who was not a great success and was the reason for Seton having changed his name five times. His first marriage was a rocky one but did produce the author Anya Seton. Much of his life was spent travelling about the wilds studying animals and later lecturing and establishing his Woodcraft Indian group. Because Seton seemed to be involved in so many disputes about his art and sciences vs. fiction debates, he managed to disagree with most people he encountered.

Betty Keller manages to present a very non-biased picture of this egotistical and over-imaginative man. Although Seton's life was intersting, this biography is not an exciting read. It contains many pictures and excerpts from letters and is well researched. However, many young people who may still read his animal stories would not enjoy this book, but adults could enjoy this study of an artist and naturalist.

Ellen Robson, Winston Churchill C.I., Scarborough, Ont.
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