Magazine article Geographical

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

Magazine article Geographical

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

Article excerpt

THE FISHING FLEET: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

by Anne de Courcy

Weidenfeld & Nicolson, hb, 20 [pounds sterling]

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

One of the dilemmas confronting the men who built and ruled Britain's Indian Empire was women, or more explicitly, the lack of them. Before the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny, British sahibs would routinely take Indian women as mistresses or even in marriage, so relaxed was the relationship between master and governed.

The mistrust, not to dwell on the repression and reprisals, that followed the Mutiny, hardened the relationship between the two. But there remained the problem of how the British men should endure this hostile environment bereft of female companionship

Eligible young British women had been sailing to India as early as the mid-18th century, and in one of the more successful cases, Margaret Maskelyne, who came out in 1753, landed Robert Clive, who was later to become Lord Clive of India. For Englishwomen, who greatly outnumbered eligible bachelors at home. …

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