History Vyvyen Brendon Children of the Raj

ISBN 13: 9780297847298

Children of the Raj

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9780297847298: Children of the Raj

The children of the raj are legion, yet their story has never previously been told. Like Katie Hickman's 'Daughters of Britannia' it is dramatic and traumatic involving dangerous voyages, vivid experiences in exotic places and profound emotions springing from the sudden, unexplained and lengthy separation of children from their parents. 'We Indian children', the novelist Thackeray called himself when packed off back to England aged 4. The tragic plight of such youngers is epitomised by two well-known fictional characters. Punch in Kipling's semi-autobiographical 'Baa Baa, Black Sheep' is bereft of his parents and victimised by his guardian during a five-year exile from India, and Mary Lennox in 'The Secret Garden' is orphaned and transplanted abruptly from a garden full of scarlet hibiscus to a bleak Yorkshire moor. Brendon's evocative, at times heart-tugging book, runs from the 18th century and the East India Company, through the Afghan wars, the Indian mutiny and the more settled era of the Queen Empress, and culminates in the conflict leading to Britain's hurried exit in 1947. Its subject is the young progeny of traders, soldiers, civil servants, missionaries, planters, engineers and what should be done with them. Until the coming of air travel these children often only saw their parents every few years. Then there were the children, often half caste, born of Anglo-Indian marriages and affairs. Sent back to Britain they were often reviled as 'darkies', 'a touch of the tar-brush'. And then there were the children educated in India. Brendon reveals appalling stories of abuse at the hands of servants. What frequently unites Brendon's wildly different subjects is their loneliness--drawing on letters, diaries, memoirs and interviews, she portrays children who had to discipline themselves to adapt (often ingeniously) to unfamiliar cultures, far away from family and forced to spend termtime in boarding schools and holidays with unfamiliar families.

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About the Author:

Vyvyen Brendon is a former head of history at St Mary's School, Cambridge. This is her first general book. She is married to the historian Piers Brendon.

Review:

'...neither jargon nor judgmentalism mars her deft handling of over a hundred scattered families. The prose is crisp, the turn of phrase as neat as Master Freddie's going-away outfit. It is to Brendon's credit that so salutary a saga is yet a joy to read.' -- John Keay LITERARY REVIEW 'riveting book' -- Jane Gardam THE DAILY MAIL 'engrossing' IMAGE MAGAZINE 'her book is full of fascinating information.' -- PANKAJ MISHRA THE NEW STATESMAN ' Closely researched and engagingly written...their experiences often make heart-rending reading' -- Dominic Sandbrook THE EVENING STANDARD 'impeccably researched.' THE HAMPSTEAD AND HIGHGATE EXPRESS 'Vyven Brendon tells us a significant amount that we didn't know before... Brendon especially has uncovered a great deal of new material.' -- Geoffrey Moorhouse THE GUARDIAN 'Brendon skilfully mines her sources.' -- Andrew Lycett THE SUNDAY TIMES 'Brendon has unearthed some excellent material among the interviews she carried out with British survivors of the Raj.' -- Peter Parker THE DAILY TELEGRAPH 'A fascinating and refreshingly child-centred account.' TIMES EDUCATIONAL SUPPLEMENT 'by turns fascinating, moving and shocking.' BELFAST TELEGRAPH 'This wide-ranging, highly intelligent study.' -- Isabel Quigly THE TABLET 'This is a welcome insight into a little explored area of Anglo-Indian history.' IRISH EXAMINER 'this book brilliantly brings a lost era to life.' BACSA 'this fascinating account' -- John Hinton THE CATHOLIC HERALD

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