Maclay: A Novel

About this Book

Nikolai Miklouho-MaclayIn the autumn of 1870, Nikolai Miklouho Maclay, a young marine biologist, left his home in St Petersburg to travel to the remote territory of New Guinea. It was the start of an adventure that was to test his courage and determination and force him to examine the ideals that had inspired his quest for a people not yet spoiled by European civilisation.

This is a compelling adventure story and a fascinating reconstruction of Maclay’s own account of his efforts to survive. The book follows him from his home in Russia into the jungles of New Guinea and the sophisticated Vice-Regal circles of the Dutch East Indies — a journey that would see him mistaken for a god and enshrined as a legend.

Biographical Fiction

This is not a biography, and I have taken some liberties with existing texts. The character of Olsen is a largely fictitious rendering of the original. Although in Maclay’s view Olsen had many failings, I found that I warmed to him. He was, after all, forced to endure an extremely trying and difficult time in New Guinea. Lacking Maclay’s unshakeable idealism, it’s hard to see how he could have made a better job of it.

Some characters in this novel are combinations of two or three different individuals mentioned in Maclay’s diaries. In the interests of the fictional narrative, I have also moved some events closer together in time.

Read the prologue
The Ship and the Captain


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