The journals, diaries and memoirs of the British traveller, scholars and official provide an insight into the social and cultural scene in India during the Raj. They tell us about the British day-to-day life in the country and their impressions of the Indian people, their way of life, customs and manners etc. Professional and amateur artists, some of whom were also notable writers, added to the chronicles of the times with their illustrated journals.
In the present work, the author, who has been described as a "Raj freak", reconstructs this period of Indian history from various aspects. Extensive research of documents available in museums, private collections and archives in USA, England and India, and the reproduction of rare paintings and drawings that enliven this text, together produce and entertaining glimpse of a fascinating, if now extinct, way of life in British India.
About the Author:
Pran Nevile is a former Diplomat and UN adviser. He was born and educated in Lahore, taking his M.A. in Economics from Government College there, and the city was the subject of his first book. He has been engaged for several years in the study of Indian social and cultural life during the British period. The author has done most of his research in the libraries and museums of the U.K. and the U.S.A. He writes frequently on subjects relating to the British Raj and this period forms the focus of his next book as well.
He lives in New Delhi.
Raj literature, rich in journals, diaries and memoirs, contains valuable information about the social and cultural scene in India during the 18th and 19th centuries. Embedded in its numerous volumes are revealing accounts of the British day-to-day life in the country, their amusements, diversion, adventures and their observations on the customs and manners of the Indian people> The British presence here also encouraged both professional and amateur artists to come to India, and it is they who sketched the first true to life pictures of India. Their drawings range from the picturesque landscape to the occupations and manners of the people, their amusements and pastimes, public entertainers and their amazing feats, ascetics and mendicants, thugs and dacoits. They have bequeathed to us a vast visual record that shows the British perception of the Indian scene. Some of these artists were also notable writers and their illustrated journals are regarded as classic chronicles of the times.
Modern writers have tried to reconstruct this period of history from various aspects. The day-to-day life of the British settlers and their impressions of the Indian people, their social structure, customs and beliefs, festivities and amusements, have remained a neglected field so far. Every author considers his work to contain something which is not to be found in any other. I may therefore be pardoned for my confidence that the present work should fill the gap and bring to light some of the untold aspects of the Raj, chiefly in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
I wish to express my grateful thanks to my friends Jagmohan Mahajan, Prem Sobti and Raj Nigam whose constant interest and friendly encouragement made this book possible. A special word of appreciation is due to Lalit Sethi, my brother-in-law who painstakingly read the manuscript and made valuable suggestions. As always, Savitri Nevile has inspired and encouraged me with her support and by relieving me from some of the family chores.
Finally, I am truly thankful to T.V. Kunhikrishnan of Somaiya Publications for the interest shown in my work.
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