Jim Corbett of Kumanon, the first extended biography of the great man, was originally published in 1979 and remains an important and pioneering sourcebook. It evokes Corbett’s life and world with unrivalled knowledge and authenticity, perhaps because the author too belonged to the mountains of kumaon and Garhwal so loved by Corbett.
Jim Corbett of kumaon has been a great favourite of Corbett fans for many years. This revised edition will be widely welcomed by a new generation of readers.
D.C.Kala Was a new editior with a leading Delhi paper and the author of a biography on Frederick 'Pahari' Wilson an early White hunter and timber magnate who operated in the Bhagirath Valley.
This Book is for Corbett fans in repayment of a debt India owes the hunter. Unashamedly, I must admit a lot of it is Corbett rewritten. All his six available books of the seven he wrote have been screened for biographical material. But there are new facts as well over and above the ones provided by Corbett himself and his three earlier biographers: Marjorie Clough, Director of the American Red Cross at Agra during World War II, who provided material to Current Biography (1946 edition); Lord Hailey, a former Governor of the United Provinces (modern Uttar Pradesh) who wrote the introduction to Tree Tops, Corbett's last book (1955); and Geoffrey Cumberlege of Oxford University Press, London, who wrote the introduction to the World's Classics edition of Man-Eaters of Kumaon and The Temple Tiger (1960).
Cumberlege's is the best account based on a close study of Corbettiana and long talks with Corbett's sister Maggie. Marjorie Clough worked for the American National Red Cross till 1947 but my efforts to contact her at her last known address proved unsuccessful. Cumberlege also could not be contacted, and Hailey is dead.
In April 1971, while I was holidaying at Bhim Tal, some- one pointed out to me Corbett's fishing lodge overlooking the dam-end of the lake. A talk with its former keeper's son, Chatur Singh, then gardener in the Canal Department there, led to some ideas. At Naini Tal, looking for material, I met two sons of his Indian friends who provided interesting guidelines. Then I called at the district record room, the registrar's office, the public library and the municipal board office and struck luck. I also met all the resident Whites and near-Whites of the area and his former tenants of the Kala- dhungi village, Choti Haldwani.
The end result I must say is far from satisfactory because of the grudging response from government departments which were approached to dig up old records. But from the kind people of Naini Tal I received enormous cooperation. Without it even this attempt, a base perhaps for a more resourceful biographer some day, would not have been possible.
Some two hundred letters went out to check on facts. The response was fair. One led to a trip to Bombay to meet R.E. Hawkins, former General Manager of Oxford University Press, India, who was kind enough to lead me on to earlier material and provided new facts.
The reader may note that the names of some places, trees, birds and animals have been spelled differently from Corbett's spellings. These are the correct spellings, for this biographer too has spent half his life in Kumaon. But I have retained Corbett's own spellings wherever I have quoted him.
Quotations taken from Corbett's books and referred to in the footnotes are from Man-Eaters of Kumaon, Peacock book, Penguin Books Ltd., 1970; The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, Oxford University Press, 1948; My India, Oxford University Press (Charnpak Library edition), 1968; Jungle L07'e, Oxford University Press, 1953; The Temple Tiger, Oxford University Press, 1965; and Tree Tops, Oxford University Press, 1955.
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