The Polar Adventures of a Rich American Dame


The first comprehensive biography of Louise Arner Boyd — the intrepid American socialite who reinvented herself as the leading female polar explorer of the twentieth century.

Born in the late 1880s to a gritty mining magnate who made his millions in the California gold rush and a well-bred mother descended from one of New York’s distinguished families, society beauty Louise Arner Boyd was raised during a glittering era.

After inheriting a staggering family fortune, she began leading a double life. She fell under the spell of the north in the late 1920s after a sailing excursion to the Arctic Ocean. Over the next three decades, she achieved international notoriety as a rugged and audacious polar explorer while maintaining her flamboyant lifestyle as a leading society woman. Yet despite organizing, financing, and directing seven daring Arctic expeditions between 1926 and 1955, she is virtually unknown today.


Vividly written, exhaustively researched, and long overdue, this evocative biography brings to life a forgotten female explorer who cries out for greater recognition. What a wonderful addition to Arctic exploration literature.

Ken McGoogan, author of Lady Franklin’s Revenge and Dead Reckoning

The early twentieth century was arguably the golden age of polar exploration and Louise Arner Boyd, heir to a fortune and raised a society woman in San Francisco, defied expectations to follow her dream to explore the most remote and dangerous regions on the planet. Joanna Kafarowski has given us a fascinating account of an adventurous spirit following an unconventional path.

Stephen R. Bown, author

An exhaustively researched account of the remarkable life of Louise Arner Boyd … Arctic aficionados, history buffs, and feminists will all be intrigued by this story of an adventurous life.

Publishers Weekly

Joanna Kafarowski’s comprehensive biography of Boyd is a long-overdue examination of this wealthy and generous socialite, gifted photographer, and goal-oriented and determined expedition organizer.

Arctic journal

About the Author

Joanna Kafarowski

Posted by Kendra on December 13, 2016
Joanna Kafarowski photo

Joanna Kafarowski

Joanna Kafarowski, Ph.D., is an independent scholar and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, an Affiliate Member of the American Geographical Society, and a Member of the Society of Woman Geographers. She is an inveterate traveller and currently divides her time between Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, and Marple, Cheshire, England.