Concept

Richard Maurice Bucke

Summary
Richard Maurice Bucke (18 March 1837 – 19 February 1902), often called Maurice Bucke, was a prominent Canadian psychiatrist in the late 19th century. An adventurer during his youth, Bucke later studied medicine. Eventually, as a psychiatrist, he headed the provincial Asylum for the Insane in London, Ontario. Bucke was a friend of several noted men of letters in Canada, the United States, and England. Besides publishing professional articles, Bucke wrote three non-fiction books: Man's Moral Nature, Walt Whitman, and Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind, which is his best-known work. Richard Maurice Bucke was born in 1837 in Methwold, England, the son of Rev. Horatio Walpole Bucke (a parish curate) and his wife Clarissa Andrews. The parents and their children emigrated to Canada when he was a year old, settling near London, Ontario. Horatio W. Bucke had given up the profession of religious minister, and trusted his family's income to their Ontario farm. A sibling in a large family, Richard Maurice Bucke was a typical farm boy of that era. He was an athletic boy who enjoyed a good ball game. When he left home at the age of 16, he traveled to Columbus, Ohio and then to California. Along the way, Bucke worked at various odd jobs. He was part of a travelling party who had to fight for their lives when they were attacked by Shoshone Indians, on whose territory they were trespassing. In the winter of 1857–58, he was nearly frozen to death in the mountains of California, where he was the sole survivor of a silver-mining party. He had to walk out over the mountains and suffered extreme frostbite. As a result, a foot and several of his toes were amputated. He then returned to Canada via the Isthmus of Panama, probably in 1858. Bucke enrolled in McGill University's medical school in Montreal, where he delivered a distinguished thesis in 1862. Although he practiced general medicine briefly as a ship's surgeon (in order to pay for his sea travel), he later specialized in psychiatry.
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