Monday, July 8, 2013

Children of the Raj

Vyvyen Brendon's book, Children of the Raj, investigates the lives of children of British parents serving in the army or working for the East India Company as civil servants or merchants in India. Many children of British families were born in India and through examining primarily correspondence and diaries the author traces the lives of these young people. In many cases young children were sent home to England or Scotland to be looked after by family members and educated in the UK. The problems of separation, loneliness and growing up without immediate family is discussed. Other children remained with their parents and the life of these families is also described. Health concerns, climate, relationships with local people, summers at the hill stations in the highlands to escape the extreme heat are all described. The uprisings that occurred during 1850s provided additional concerns and dangers. In many cases the children of the British in India followed the footsteps of their parents and either stayed or returned to the Indian sub-continent. The book traces stories of these families up until the end of the Raj when India gained independence in 1947.

Having family in India in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries I found that this book provided interesting background information about how families connected with India lived during these years. Some of the families mentioned married members of my extended family which helped make the information even more relevant. There is a detailed notes section at the back of the book as well as bibliography and index. A useful book for those interested in life of the British in India prior to 1947.

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