Behramji Malabari

Other names: 

Behramji Merwanji Malabari

Phiroze B. M. Malabari

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1853
Precise DOB unknown: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Vadodara, Gujarat
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1912
Precise date of death unknown: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1890
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 

Behramji Malabari was a Parsee journalist and writer. He was an advocate of women's social reform in India an a champion of women's suffrage in India. He met Mary Carpenter on one of her visits to India in 1875 and dedicated The Indian Muse in English Garb, published in 1876, to her. In 1880, he became editor of the Indian Spectator.

Malabari became known in Britain for his role in promoting women's rights, particularly those of the Hindu widow. On the case of Rukhmabai of 1885, a child bride ordered to live with her husband, Malabari wrote not only editorials in his own paper, but also letters to the editors of The Times. Florence Nightingale and Max Müller both became interested in the case and wrote commentary on it. Malabari's reforming role played a part in the passing of the 1891 Age of Consent Act in India.

In 1890, Malabari travelled to Britain. His journey and observations of British life were recorded in 1893 in The Indian Eye on English Life; or, Rambles of a Pilgrim Reformer. The third edition, published in India in 1895, included a chapter that was not present in the British edition, on 'Sex', or women's rights.

Published works: 

The Indian Muse in English Garb (Bombay: Reporters Press, 1876)

Gujarat and the Gujaratis (London:  W. H. Allen & Co., 1882)

Infant Marriage and Enforced Widowhood in India: Being a collection of opinions for and against received by B. M. Malabari from representative Hindu gentlemen and officials and other authorities (Bombay: Voice of India Printing Press, 1887)

An Appeal from the Daughters of India (London: Farmer & Sons, 1890)

The Indian Eye on English Life; or, Rambles of a Pilgrim Reformer (London: Archibald Constable & Co., 1893)

India in 1897 (London: A. J. Combridge, 1898)

Bombay in the Making: being mainly a history of the origin and growth of judicial institutions in the western Presidency, 1661-1726, with an introduction by George Sydenham Clarke (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1910)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Indian Magazine and Review ('Three Hours with Miss Carpenter in Bombay', 91, July 1878)

The Times (letter to the editor, 22 August 1890)



Asiatic Review, October 1896 (review of Karkaria's biography)

Secondary works: 

Burton, Antoinette, At the Heart of the Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998)

Burton, Antoinette, 'From Child Bride to "Hindoo Lady": Rukhmabai and the Debate on Sexual Respectability in Imperial Britain', The American Historical Review,103.4 (October 1998), pp. 1119-46

Burton, Antoinette, 'Making a Spectacle of Empire: Indian Travellers in Fin-de-Siècle London', History Workshop Journal 42 (1996) ,pp . 127-46

Codell, Julie F., 'Reversing the Grand Tour: Guest Discourse in Indian Travel Narratives', Huntington Library Quarterly 70.1 (2007), pp. 173-89

Gidumal, Dayarum, Behramji M. Malabari: A Biographical Sketch, with an introduction by Florence Nightingale (London: T. Unwin, 1892)

Karkaria, R. P., India Forty Years of Progress and Reform. Being a Sketch of the Lfe and Times of Behramji M. Malabari (London: Henry Frowde, 1896)

Innes, C. L., A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Singh, Jogendra, B. M. Malabari: Rambles with a Pilgrim Reformer, with an introduction by Sir Valentine Chirol (London: G. Bell & Sons, 1914)

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto Press, 2002)


Malabari, The Indian Eye on English Life; or, Rambles of a Pilgrim Reformer (London: Archibald Constable & Co., 1893), Ch.2


This is a travelogue of Malabari's visit to Britain in 1890. This chapter deals with his arrival at Dover and journey to London.


What strikes an Asiatic  most, on getting out at Victoria Station, is the noise and bustle around him. Every man and woman - one might say every animal, and even some of the inanimate objects - seem to be full of life. The streets and thoroughfares of London present a sight in this respect, which it is almost impossible for the stranger to realize save his own eyes. I happen to have read a good deal about this, but what I actually see here exceeds my anticipation.


Malabari's account gives an example of a South Asian view of London in the 1890s. He reveals the curiosities of London to foreign eyes. The account is almost anthropological in tone, thus demonstrating the agency and confidence Malabari feels in commenting on Britain.