reading room

Northbrook Society


From an idea that was formed in 1879, founded in February 1880, as a sub-committee of the National Indian Association, the Northbrook Society was originally designed as a reading room and club providing Indian and other newspapers for Indian visitors to London and British members. Named after Lord Northbrook, former Viceroy of India, who was their president, the Society became a separate entity to the NIA in September 1881. In 1910, the Northbrook Society was housed along with the NIA and Bureau for Information for Indian Students at 21 Cromwell Road, South Kensington. The Society was then able to provide a small number of rooms as temporary lodgings for Indian visitors and students.


Mary Hobhouse, ‘London sketched by an Indian Pen’, The Indian Magazine, 230 (February 1890), pp. 61-73 at p. 66.

Other names: 

Northbrook Indian Society

Northbrook Club

Northbrook Indian Club

Secondary works: 

Khalidi, Omar (ed.), An Indian Passage to Europe: The Travels of Fath Nawaj Jang (Karachi: OUP, 2006)

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

Robinson, Andrew, ‘Selected Letters of Sukumar Ray’, South Asia Research, 7 (1987), pp. 169-236 [Sukumar Ray's account of lodging with the Northbrook Society, 1911-12]


Extracts from a diary written by Mehdi Hasan Khan of his time in London in 1889. This includes mention of a lunch visit to the Northbrook Club.

Date began: 
01 Feb 1880

In India I had heard disparaging things said about this club. Among other things, that the club being full of Anglo-Indians, Natives were treated badly there, deriving no benefit from, and having no voice in, the club. I am extremely glad to say that I found every one of these remarks contrary to the fact. Natives are treated there on perfectly equal terms with Europeans. It is a most useful institution for Indians. Our students in London assemble there regularly every afternoon, meet Englishmen, see club life, and enjoy one another’s society.

Key Individuals' Details: 

Gerald Fitzgerald (Secretary), Lord Northbrook (President).

Archive source: 

The Times, 6 August 1881, 15 May 1883, 22 May 1883, 10 August 1883, 7 August 1884, 5 November 1886, 1 September 1908, 11 January 1910, 2 May 1926

NIA Minutes, Mss Eur F147/3-4, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events details: 

Prince of Wales opened new house of Northbrook Indian Society at 3 Whitehall Gardens, 21 May 1883.

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