Life in India

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The structure, and some of the contents, of this article follows the website British Voices from South Asia, now archived, which contains material from an exhibition which was held in Hill Memorial Library at Louisiana State University, April 8 to August 6, 1996. The exhibition marked the acquisition by the T. Harry Williams Center for Oral History at LSU of a series of taped interviews with British people who lived and worked in India before Independence in 1947.

Also see Society reading list

FIBIS Resources


7 Digitised volumes Volume 1 is for 1858, Volume 7 is for 1869. University of Oxford, England Digital collection.
Bradshaw's Railway Guides were very well known in the UK and were used by Michael Portillo in his Great Railway Journeys television series.

The Passage to India

Library.gif The FIBIS Google Books Library
has books tagged:
Overland Route Travel

Also see Maritime Service for descriptions of some sea voyages to India.

The Suez Canal was opened for navigation on the 17 November 1869.

Historical books online


Historical books online

Marriage and children

  • The following letter from Reginald Heber, Bishop of Calcutta, written in 1826 to the Archbishop of Canterbury sets out the situation applying to Army soldiers and permission to marry. In Church records of marriages, marriage is by licence or by banns. In India, at least in this period, marriage by banns included marriage under the conditions mentioned by Bishop Heber. From Narrative of a journey through the upper provinces of India, from Calcutta to Bombay, 1824-1825; (With notes upon Ceylon,) an Account of a journey to Madras and the southern provinces, 1826, and letters written in India, Volume 2 Page 251 Google Books
    • This letter also contains the wording “...while the miseries and dangers to which an unprotected woman is liable in India are such as to make it highly desirable that widows and female orphans should remain as short a time unmarried as possible”. (page 252)
  • "Judith Weston and her search for a husband" in 1727-1728. 19 June 2017 British Library’s Untold lives blog.
  • Article "The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj" by Frances Wilson 30 July 2012 The Telegraph.
Article "Husband hunters of the Raj: How a 'fishing fleet' of 1920s society girls were drawn into sexual intrigues in India even steamier than the climate" by Annabel Venning dated 6 July 2012 MailOnline.
Husband-hunting in the Raj. Listen to, or download a radio interview with Anne de Courcy, journalist and author by presenter Phillip Adams, broadcast Tuesday 31 July 2012 ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission).
Interview: The Fishing Fleet. Anne de Courcy Anne de Courcy paints a fascinating portrait of 'husband-hunting in the Raj the subject of her new book. (host Paul French) Adelaide Week, March 2013 YouTube.
Anne de Courcy's book is available online, see below.
  • "Finding Mermanjan – the star of the evening" Four blogs (linked from the first) by Felicia Line from the British Library’s Untold lives blog, 2 July 2019-22 July 2019. Mermanjan was the only daughter of an Afghan noble, niece of the Amir of Afghanistan Dost Mohammed, who married Thomas Maughan of the Bombay Army. They first met in 1849. Her story was told in the book Mermanjan, Star of the Evening by Gertrude Dimmock published 1970.
  • British women married to Indian men.
It is interesting to note that two of the following couples met in Britain when the future husband was studying.
  • On the Strength: Wives and Children of the British Army, a Canadian website. Some of the information, particularly in respect of physical work performed, may not be applicable to India.
  • The Army Children Archive (TACA) contains information about British Army children and wives, with themes such as Accomodation and On the Move. There are references to India in a number of the themes.
  • "Childhood Memories of India" by John Goddard, KRRC. KRRC Association. The author was born in 1923 and lived most of the time until 1933 in India, in cantonments in Lucknow and Calcutta. His father was officers’ mess sergeant in a battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (the 60th Rifles).
  • Peshawar Remembered by Walter Reeve (born 1934) whose father was in the Indian Army, and later the Pakistan Army., now archived. and another version (archived). The recollections of an English schoolboy growing up in Peshawar around the time of partition. "Memories of Murree" also by Walter Reeve. Details of a visit to Murree in 1936 from the author’s father’s memoirs, and the author’s memory of visits in 1948 and 1949. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Scroll down. Jang Newspapers 6, 13 and 20 November 2005, now archived websites.
  • Indian Tales by Patrick O‘Meara (born 1930) describes his childhood in India, spent in Army cantonments. His father was in the Royal Indian Army Service Corps (RIASC)., now archived.
  • "The lifelong effects of being a child in the British Raj" by Brigid Keenan 27 March 2021 The Spectator.

Historical books online

4th edition 1856 by Dr H H Goodeve First published 1844. 7th edition 1879 Entirely rewritten by Edward A Birch, Surgeon-Major, Bengal Establishment. Became Birch’s 1st edition. 2nd edition 1886, 3rd edition 1895, 5th edition 1913 Updated by C R M Green and V B Green-Armytage. All 7th edition 1929 by V. B. Green-Armytage and E.H.Vere Hodge, mirror from Digital Library of India; 8th edition 1933 version by E. H. Vere Hodge, mirror from Digital Library of India. 9th edition 1933 version, mirror from Digital Library of India.
  • An Englishwoman in India : the memoirs of Harriet Tytler, 1828-1858 by Harriet Tytler. Edited by Anthony Sattin. 1986. Lending Library. Harriet Earle was born into an army family in India Includes her memories of childhood in India and England before the Mutiny. At the age of nineteen she married Captain Robert Tytler. She later was the only woman present at the siege of Delhi, part of the Indian Mutiny, in 1857.
  • Two Under the Indian Sun by Jon and Rumer Godden 1966. 2nd file Both files Lending Library. The sisters were born 1906 and 1907. For an autobiography of Rumer Godden's later life, see next section.
  • See M M Kaye for the autobiographies, published 1990-2000, of M M Kaye, born 1908, author of the best selling novels The Far Pavilions and Shadow of the Moon.
  • Out of India : a Raj Childhood by Michael Foss 2001. Lending Library.
  • Children of the Raj by Vyvyen Brendon 2005. Lending Library.
Article "Children of the Raj" by Vyvyen Brendon (2006) from a SAALG Newsletter, British Library archived webpage. How the book came to be written.

Life in the Bungalows

FIBIS resources

  • "A Parsonage in Madras - Elizabeth Sharp’s letters" by Diana Bousfield-Wells FIBIS Journal Number 29 (Spring 2013) pages 38-48. She married Thomas Smith at the end of 1883. The letters from Madras were written in 1884 until she died in December 1884 following childbirth. See FIBIS Journals for details of how to access this article
  • "Calvert Smith, the baby from the Parsonage" by Diana Bousfield-Wells FIBIS Journal Number 30 (Autumn 2013) pages 33 -42 . Continuing the previous article. Letters by the Rev Thomas Smith until his death in early 1888, regarding the care of his young son.
  • "Memories of my childhood in British India" by Pearline Philomena Berry FIBIS Journal Number 34 (Autumn 2015). page 49. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.
  • "An English Bride in Edwardian India" by Christine Kendell FIBIS Journal Number 35 (Spring 2016), pages 3-5. For details of how to access this article, see FIBIS Journals.

Historical books online

Tropical Trials. A Hand-book for Women in the Tropics by Major S Leigh Hunt Madras Army and Alexander S Kenny. 1883
Tweed's Cow-keeping In India 5th edition, revised by S N Sinha, 1931
Mrs. Temple-Wright's Flowers and Gardens in India. With a Hindustant Vocabulary of Gardening and Botanical Terms 7th edition revised and edited by W Burns. 1922.
My Garden in the City of Gardens: A Memory by Edith E Cuthell 1905 Memories of life as an Army Officer’s wife in Lucknow.
Raj: a Scrapbook of British India, 1877-1947 by Charles Allen 1977. Lending Library.

Imperial Diversions: The Club, the Hills, the Field

The British Library holds the publication Hoghunter's annual, volumes 1(1928)-12(1939), (classified as a Journal) published by The Times Of India Press, Bombay UIN: BLL01008628498 . Also catalogued elsewhere as The Hoghunters' Annual, for which 1928 (possibly 1928-1930) is/are available as Google Books snippet view, perhaps some may have full access.

Historical books online

Tank Angling in India author catalogued Henry Sullivan Thomas and catalogued 1887., Granth Sanjeevani Asiatic Society of Mumbai Collection. Note title page and pages of the Preface are missing. Also available to readers in North America etc, on HathiTrust Digital Library.
  • Hill Stations of India by Gillian Wright. Photography by Sarah Lock 1991. Books to Borrow/Lending Library
The Magic Mountains: Hill Stations and the British Raj by Dane Kennedy, 1996 University of California Press online edition.

Railway Life

Historical books online

Indo-British Relations

Departure and Connections

"British Troops Leave" The Glasgow Herald August 18, 1947 Google News
"This Bloody Line" A film by Ram Madhvani. Cyril Radcliffe was the British lawyer tasked with deciding on the dividing line at Partition. YouTube video.

Historical books online

  • While Memory Serves by Lieut.-General Sir Francis Tuker. Digital reprint edition reproduced by Sani H Panhwar, originally published 1950. Original edition, mirror from Digital Library of India. Covers the two years 1946 and 1947, "told by one who watched events from the Headquarters of Eastern Command" of the Indian Army, (he was G.O.C. in C.), including riots and bloodshed in Calcutta, the Punjab and elsewhere.
  • [Extract from] The Last of the Bengal Lancers [published 1988] by Brig (Retd) Francis H B Ingall Defence Journal December 1998, now archived. The author travelled from India to Pakistan, to work for the Pakistan Army, and comments on the massacres.
Complete book The Last of the Bengal Lancers by Francis Ingall 1988. Books to Borrow/Lending Library
  • The Last Days Of The British Raj by Leonard Mosley 1960
  • Divide and Quit by Penderel Moon c 1961
  • The Last Years Of British India by Michael Edwardes 1963
  • Freedom At Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre c 1975 version, mirror from Digital Library of India. The events in India in 1947
  • Partition And Aftermath: Memoirs of an Ambassador by Kewal Singh 1992. version, mirror from Digital Library of India. Also available to read online on Academy of the Punjab in North America.
  • Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India by Stanley A. Wolpert 2006 Lending Library.
  • Farewell Raj by Tony Hearne 2009. Cover includes the extra words Witness to End of Empire. Books to Borrow/Lending Library. He was in the Army Ordnance Corps in India and was discharged August 1947, but due to safety concerns re-enlisted in January 1948, and left India with the regiment some weeks (months?) later. During his time in the Army he witnessed awful scenes. Recommended by Peter Bailey, FIBIS Chairman, in the FIBIS "Journal" no. 22 (Autumn 2009), p. 56, see Biographies reading list.
  • For books about Lord Mountbatten, last Viceroy of India, see Governor-General.
  • See British India - Historical books online for the publication The Transfer of Power 1942-7, in 12 volumes.
  • Fiction
    • The Raj Quartet by Paul Scott, first published in one volume 1976. Published individually 1966-1975. Lending Library.
    Consisting of: The Jewel in the Crown.--The Day of the Scorpion.--The Towers of Silence.--A Division of the Spoils
    "Four novels covering the period between the Quit India riots of 1942 and the massacres that accompanied independence and partition in 1947 provide insight into the closing years of British rule in India."


Access the Oral History Collection. The interviews are available to listen to, or a transcript may be read.
Access the Home video Collection. Approximately 50 individual collections totalling in the region of 80 hours of footage, taken between 1911 and 1956, with probably most from the 1930s.

Also see

Recommended Reading

  • This Indian Express article describes the book Mehtars and Marigolds by Barbara Dinner 2009, about four generations of her family from 1874, starting in Simla. This link also discusses the book which has been favourably reviewed in FIBIS Journal no 25 (Spring 2011).


  1. “Back in Bombay” “Retroblog of Najm Tyabji (1930+)”
  2. “The Wedding “Retroblog of Najm Tyabji (1930+)”
  3. "Hog Sticking Raj Style! Pt I", "Hog Sticking Raj Style! Pt II" The Rasch Outdoor Chronicles.