Society reading list

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  • Books on Anglo-Indian culture and history, compiled by Withbert W. Payne. [Online version] 1997.

An extensive listing on the Anglo Indian Home Page of relevant titles. No evaluations are provided. Some library sources, both in the United States and the United Kingdom, are given.

  • Dady, Dorothy S.

Scattered seeds : the diaspora of the Anglo-Indians. London: Pagoda Press, 2007

This coffee table book contains striking, full-page photographs of modern Anglo-Indians both young and old from India and around the world. Each image is accompanied by a brief autobiographical account and a personal assessment of what it means to be an Anglo-Indian. Here you will find the faces of a few famous men and women together with those who may well consider themselves ordinary folk. These, however, include people who have experienced great poverty; who have survived tragedy and setbacks; maintained a sense of humour; always been hospitable; faced the challenges of assimilation, found contentment wherever they have settled and are full of confidence about the future. These vignettes are a wonderful tribute to 'the diaspora'.

Dady prefaces these accounts with her own story and a brief history of the community.

A full review by Beverly Hallam, a FIBIS trustee, of this book is to be found on pp. 49& 50 of FIBIS Journal no. 21 (Spring 2009)].

  • Gabb, Alfred D. F.

Anglo-Indian legacy, 1600-1947 : a brief guide to British Raj India history, nationality, education, railways and irrigation. Rev 2nd ed. Overton: The author, 2003

"Gabb's book provides an easily accessible account for the generation that has been born and brought up outside of the Sub-continent, who may be unaware of their forebears' history. Whilst for those who are not of Anglo-India descent it forms a good introduction to the community. The diverse European origins of the Anglo-Indian community are covered, as are the key figures who helped shape the destiny of the community during its existence. The contribution made by the community both in war and peacetime are examined and perhaps some myths dispelled..." The full review by Geraldine Charles, a FIBIS trustee, is on p. 44 of FIBIS Journal 11 (Spring 2004).

  • Hawes, Christopher

Poor relations : the making of a Eurasian community in British India 1773-1833. Richmond: Curzon, 1996

Based on the author's doctoral thesis, this history of the formation of the community now known as Anglo-Indians makes fascinating reading. Hawes challenges some of the conclusions made by earlier writers such as Stark and Anthony. An excerpt from the book can be seen at Google Books Limited View.

Hawes provided additional information on the basis for his understanding of the formation of the Anglo-Indian community in an interview he gave in 1997 which is available as Christopher Hawes in Conversation with Glenn D'Cruz in The International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies Volume 3, Number 1, 1998. Sadly he did not live to complete his planned study of this community in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

  • Mills, Megan Stuart

"Some Comments on stereotypes of the Anglo-Indians" from the International Journal of Anglo-Indian Studies [Online version] 1996.

In these two articles the author aims to repudiate common negative stereotypes of Anglo-Indians "with carefully reasoned arguments and positive Anglo-Indian imagery". Part 1 includes a list of books and Part 2 includes a section on the army in World War I, mentioning conscription, and, in section 9, railway people.

  • Norris, Paul Byron

Ulysses in the Raj. London: BACSA Books, 1992

"Of the many European communities that settled in India under the protective umbrella of the British Empire perhaps the least chronicled was the Greek... The author is himself a direct descendant of the founder of the Greek Merchantile community of Calcutta... [T]he activities of the most prominent members of the community [are described]... The adventures of Greek mercenary soldiers who served as officers in the armies of the Mahratta princes and the missionary work in Bengal of the Greek Orthodox priests are also covered...The second half of the book is concerned with the arrival, in 1857, of the Greek commercial colossus, Ralli Brothers, in Calcutta, its subsequent spread over all of Northern India and the history of Greek families such as the Paniotys and Nicachis... The book also contains useful appendices of lists of Greek merchants in India, gathered from original sources." The full review is on pp. 28-29 of FIBIS Journal 2 (December 1999)

  • Quick, Diana

A tug on the thread : from the British Raj to the British stage, a family memoir. London: Virago, 2009

“It has clearly taken Miss Quick many years to uncover her antecedents and she presents her story in a most readable way. The book is unusual in that [the author] relates the parts she has played as an actress to situations she herself experienced in real life and some of the experiences of her ancestors, several of whom appear to have undergone severe trials and tribulations. . . . This is a most welcome addition to the literature on the Anglo-Indian community and is a jolly good read.” (The full review by Allan Stanistreet appears on p.56 of FIBIS Journal no. 22 (Autumn 2009).

  • FFF1.jpg
    Researching Anglo-Indian ancestry. Weybridge: Families in British India Society, 2009 (FIBIS fact files; 1)

Essential for any family historian with blended ethnicity. The booklet contains two expanded and updated articles previously published in the FIBIS Journal: The children of John Company : the Anglo-Indians by Geraldine Charles, and A Luso-Indian voyage by Cliff Pereira. These two authorities provide invaluable information: definitions of the various terms used for those of mixed race in the Indian sub-continent, a brief background history of these communities, reading lists, and, by using their own families as a basis, a demonstration of how to effectively research Anglo-Indian ancestors. Available from FIBIS Shop

  • The Way we were : Anglo-Indian chronicles, edited by Margaret Deefholts and Glen Deefholts.

Monroe Twp., New Jersey: CTR, 2006

"A book written by Anglo-Indians about their past lives in India before many of them had emigrated to the UK, Oz, NZ and the States, when Indian Independence and partition forced them to think seriously about their future status in the land of their birth. Each chapter points up a particular aspect of being Anglo-Indian... The book deals with so many aspects of Anglo-Indian life and should be compulsory reading for anyone who has lived in pre-Independent India." The full review by Hazel Craig is on p.48-49 of the FIBIS Journal 18 (Autumn 2007). Additional reviews and information at the CTR website

see also White mughals (Dalrymple, 2002) in the History reading list


  • Craig, Hazel Mary Innes

Under the old school topee. Rev ed. Rickmansworth: The Author, 1996

Not all British children were sent back 'home' to be educated. Many schools were founded in India to provide schooling for children of the British, Anglo-Indian and Indian parents who wanted to provide the benefits of a quality, English-medium education without the necessity of being separated from their family for years at a time. Based on extensive interviews, research and her own personal experience, the author presents an entertaining and informative introduction to life at these institutions. Includes a list of useful addresses.

  • Philp, Robert Kemp

Index scholasticus : sons and daughters. A guide to parents in the choice of educational institutions preparatory to professional or other occupation of their children. London: Virtue, 1872

"Looking for background on requirements for a professional career in Britain and for the Civil Service in India after 1861? If so, try the Index Scholasticus. Particularly good for those with medical career men, including Hints for students contemplating a medical career; Educational requirements for Civil Service in India; Fees etc. It covers all aspects of a professional career from Matriculation to Societies and Institutions, in England, Scotland and Ireland. Best read through its entirety to find gems of info. Available for free download at: Internet Archive" Review originally posted by Jill Statton, OAM, FSAGHS, Adelaide, South Australia to the India List 23/04/2011.

Women and children

  • Brendon, Vyvyen

Children of the Raj. London: Phoenix, 2006

"This book is about generations of nineteenth and twentieth century children virtually exiled from familiar childhood surroundings, and separated from their parents during their most formative years. From a great quantity of diverse archive material (family letters, diaries, drawings and photos, etc.) as well as face-to-face interviews with survivors of the Raj, the author has constructed a smoothly consecutive narrative of compelling interest. It is a luminous portrayal of a way of life and social attitudes long gone..." The full review by Nora Naish is available on pp.47-49 of FIBIS Journal 17 (Spring 2007). Read an extract (pdf) from the book, possibly Chapter 1. An article by Brendon with the same title as her book can be read in SAALG, issue 3 (2006) commencing page on 4.

  • Dowley-Wise, Justine

In those days : a scrapbook of growing up in India in the days of the Raj. Lincoln, NE, USA: iUniverse, 2005

"There have been many memoirs of life in India during the last days of the Raj, but this is a worthy addition to that number, not least because the author was the daughter of a Calcutta businessman, and the British business community in India is perhaps less well represented in our collective memory of India under British rule than the India Civil Service or the Indian Army. When dealing with the historical background, the book does contain some errors of detail, but these do not detract from the authenticity of the author's account of her own personal experience as a child of the Raj... Dowley-Wise gives a very full account of the life experienced by a young girl growing up in India" including the hospitality offered by her family to the troops in wartime Calcutta. The full review by David Blake, a FIBIS trustee, is available on pp.48-49 of FIBIS Journal 15 (Spring 2006). Excerpts from the book and comments are available at Raj memories

  • Maitland, Julia

Letters from Madras during the years 1836-1839, with introduction, notes and appendices by Alyson Price. Otley: Woodstock Books, 2003

Lively and informative letters written to family in England by the then Julia Thomas, whose husband was a senior civil servant in the HEICS. The first few letters describe the outward journey, the bulk give much fascinating detail of life in Madras, Rajahmundry, summer retreats to the coast at isolated Samuldavee, and conclude with a trip to Bangalore. Price's additions to the original book first published anonymously in 1843, are most helpful, particularly in identifying many of the people of whom Julia writes. Invaluable for providing a woman's perspective on life in British India in the 1830s.

  • Raza, Rosemary

In their own words : British women writers and India 1740-1857. Oxford: OUP, 2006

The author presents us with a detailed picture of life in India prior to the Mutiny, as gleaned from the writing of over eighty women of the period. Ranging from the wealthy and influential, through to intrepid travelers and missionaries, these women often challenge the traditional idea of the memsahib. Raza has based this fascinating book on research done for her doctoral thesis. A full review by Penny Brook, Head of India Office Records at the British Library, is available on pp. 46-47 of FIBIS Journal no. 17 (Spring 2007).

Other aspects of society

  • Atkinson, George Francklin

'Curry & rice' on forty plates : or, The ingredients of social life at 'our station' in India. [Online version] 3rd ed. London: Day, 1860

Captain Atkinson of the HEIC Bengal Engineers was one of the most popular authors of his time in British India. His writing reflects the common attitudes and prejudices of British society of the period and may offend some modern readers. This illustrated collection of 40 humorous anecdotes featuring various stereotypes such as 'our colonel' and 'our doctor's wife', 'our cook room', and 'our pig-sticking' can be accessed at

A page from Ballads of Burma : anecdotal and analytical by Oolay (1912) at gives more details of George Atkinson.

  • Buettner, Elizabeth

Empire families : Britons and Late Imperial India. Oxford: OUP, 2004

"This is a very thorough study of the assumptions, prejudices, customs and practices of British families involved in British rule in India from the post-mutiny period to Indian independence in 1947. It discusses not only how those attitudes and practices affected the nature of British rule, particularly in fostering multi-generational involvement in the Raj, but also how that involvement affected the families themselves... For anyone seeking a scholarly and comprehensive study of the foibles and prejudices of the British in India, Empire families can be recommended." The full review by David Blake, a FIBIS trustee, is on pp.49-50 of FIBIS Journal 13 (Spring 2005). Here is the introductory chapter of the book and an excerpt of the book is at Google Books Limited View.

  • Burton, David

The Raj at table. London: Faber, 1994

This book is a delightful blend of the culinary and social history of the Raj period. Although it contains over sixty authentic Anglo Indian recipes, it cannot be regarded as a mere recipe book but rather as an, often most amusing, observation of the changing habits of British India. There are descriptions of formal dinner parties accompanied by an order of precedence, hilarious attempts by Indian cooks to prepare anglicised dishes in deference to the fair ladies that arrived with the fishing fleet, food enjoyed by travelers in tents or dak bungalows, and offerings that ensured the army marched with a full belly!

In addition to examining the impact of the British (and other Europeans) on the cuisine of India, the book also presents the way in which returning nabobs impacted on the palate of England. Worcestershire sauce, for example, is based on an Indian recipe and the emergence of an interest in curries resulted in Queen Victoria employing two Indian cooks.

The book is indexed and contains a useful bibliography. Recommended! (reviewed by Beverly Hallam, a FIBIS trustee)

  • Grant, Colesworthey

Anglo-Indian domestic life : a letter from an artist in India to his mother in England [Online version] 2nd Edition Calcutta: Thacker,Spink, 1862

A fascinating ramble through the domestic circumstances of British residents in Calcutta prior to the Indian Mutiny, with some later additions and modifications. Dedicated to his mother and generously illustrated, Grant provides descriptions of such diverse topics as the layout of houses, the multitude of servants and their tasks, the best markets for various goods, where to find a plumber, cost of items and local fruit and vegetables. An explanation of the various means to keep cool extends from the home to a description of the arrangement of pulleys and ropes used to control the punkahs in St Paul's Cathedral. Excellent background material for family historians available as full view at Google Books

  • Sykes, Marjorie

Quakers in India : a forgotten century. London: Allen & Unwin, 1980

A useful and readable introduction to the history of Friends involvement in India. The extent of their influence in so many spheres may surprise some readers. Quaker beliefs brought a different perspective to areas such as commerce (the first Friends-owned merchant ship to reach Calcutta in 1815 was 'armed' against the French with wooden, replica guns), journalism, education and politics. In covering the lives of these men and women (expatriate, Anglo-Indian and Indian), Sykes includes "missed opportunities and mis-steps", as well as the positives.