Godfrey Morgan

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Godfrey Morgan: A Californian Mystery
Original illustration of Jules Verne's L'École des Robinsons
AuthorJules Verne
Original titleL'École des Robinsons
IllustratorLéon Benett
SeriesThe Extraordinary Voyages #22
GenreAdventure novel
PublisherPierre-Jules Hetzel
Publication date
Published in English
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Preceded byEight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon 
Followed byThe Green Ray 

Godfrey Morgan: A Californian Mystery (French: L'École des Robinsons, literally The School for Robinsons), also published as School for Crusoes, is an 1882 adventure novel by French writer Jules Verne.[1] The novel tells of a wealthy young man, Godfrey Morgan who, with his deportment instructor, Professor T. Artelett, embark from San Francisco, California on a round-the-world ocean voyage. They are cast away on an uninhabited Pacific island where they must endure a series of adversities. Later they encounter an African slave, Carefinotu, brought to the island by cannibals. In the end, the trio manage to work together and survive on the island.

The novel is a robinsonade—a play on Daniel Defoe's 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe.

Plot summary[edit]

The narrative begins with the auction by the US Government of fictional Spencer Island, located 460 miles off the California coast (32°15′N 145°18′W / 32.250°N 145.300°W / 32.250; -145.300). The island is uninhabited and there are only two bidders, William W. Kolderup, a very wealthy San Franciscan, and his arch-rival J. R. Taskinar, a resident of Stockton, California. Kolderup wins the auction, buying Spencer Island for four million dollars. J. R. Taskinar mutters, "I will be avenged!" before retiring to his hotel.

Godfrey, an idle twenty-two-year-old, lives with Kolderup, his uncle, and Kolderup's adopted goddaughter, Phina, whom Godfrey has grown to love. Prior to marrying Phina, Godfrey asks to undertake a world tour. Acceding to his desire, his uncle sends Godfrey on a sea voyage around the world on board one of his steamships, the Dream, commanded by Captain Turcott. Godfrey is accompanied by his mentor, teacher, and dance instructor, Professor T. Artelett aka "Tartlet".

After some time at sea, Godfrey is awakened one foggy night and told to abandon ship as the Dream is foundering. After jumping into the sea, Godfrey is washed ashore on a deserted island, where he soon finds Tartlet has also been marooned. Godfrey, with scant help from Tartlet, will have to learn to survive, to organize his life, face hostile intruders, and overcome other obstacles. Eventually, they are also joined by Carefinotu, whom Godfrey rescues from Polynesians visiting the island. By the end of the story the formerly jaded young man has discovered the value of independent effort, and he gains poise and courage. The marooned group are rescued and returned to San Francisco, where Godfrey is reunited with Phina. They agree to marry before continuing the world tour, this time together.


Although the setting is different, the robinsonade plot is a variation on the theme of rational self-sufficiency that Verne developed earlier in The Mysterious Island (1874). At the time of publication, it was common for a young man of wealth to undertake travel as an educational rite of passage, for example the California heir Leland Stanford, Jr. who took two European Grand Tours, one in 1880-81, and died on the second in 1884. The original French version of Verne's novel was published in 1882, after Stanford's first tour.[2]

Film adaptation[edit]

The novel was adapted for a 1981 USA/Spain co-production by director Juan Piquer Simón, titled Jules Verne's Mystery on Monster Island (Spanish: Misterio en Isla de los Monstruos), and starring Peter Cushing and Terence Stamp, with David Hatton, Ian Sera, Paul Naschy, Blanca Estrada, Ana Obregón and Frank Braña in supporting roles.[3] Monsters were prominently included as an element in the film, but were absent from the novel, in which the villain J. R. Taskinar introduces non-indigenous carnivores to the island to take revenge on Kolderup's auction win. In 2007 the film was released on DVD as part of a double feature.[4] Despite the similar title, the film has no connection with the better-known Verne novel The Mysterious Island, though some reviewers have disregarded this.[5][6]


  1. ^ Nash, Andrew (2001-11-27). École des Robinsons (L') - 1882. Retrieved on 2009-08-13.
  2. ^ Johnston, Theresa, "About a Boy," Stanford, July–August 2003.
  3. ^ Renzi, Thomas C. (1998). Jules Verne on film: a filmography of the cinematic adaptations of his works, 1902 through 1997 (illustrated ed.). McFarland. pp. 167–169. ISBN 0-7864-0450-7.
  4. ^ FoxStore.com "Gorilla at Large/Mystery at [sic] Monster Island Double Feature." Retrieved on 2009-08-13.
  5. ^ Moria.co.nz "Monster Island is ostensibly based on Jules Verne’s Mysterious Island (1875), although it gives the impression that none of the filmmakers have actually read the Verne story." Retrieved on 2009-06-12.
  6. ^ Answers.com "Spanish director Juan Piquer Simon returned to the author with this substandard retelling of Mysterious Island." Retrieved on 2009-06-12.

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