Siddha Mohana Mitra


Siddha Mohana Mitra was born in 1856 and died in 1925. He was of Hindu-Bengali origin and had lived in Hyderabad for a number of years. Mitra had been editor of the Deccan Post.

From the begining of the twentieth century, Mitra wrote a number of books, published in London, on India. He was a regular contributor to the Asiatic Quarterly Review. He was a member of the Royal Asiatic Society and met a number of high-ranking Anglo-Indian officials. His book, Indian Problems, cited by Lord Curzon in a House of Lords debate in 1912 revealed Mitra's argument that the partition of Bengal had not had a detrimental effect on the region. George Birdwood wrote an introduction to this book, and encouraged Mitra to publish his work of fiction, Hindupore.

Published works: 

British Rule in India, introduction by Sir James Fergusson, L. Ashburner, John Pollen and Colonel W. Loch (London: Dalziel and Co., 1905)

India and Imperial Preference (London: Cobden Club, 1907)

Indian Problems, introduction by Sir George Birdwood (London: J. Murray, 1908)

Hindupore: A peep behind the Indian unrest - an Anglo-Indian Romance (London: Luzac and Co., 1909)

Life and Letters of Sir John Hall, introduction by Read-Admiral R. Massie Blomfield (London: Longmans, 1911)

(with her Highness the Maharani of Baroda) The Position of Women in Indian Life (London: Longmans, 1911)

Anglo-Indian Studies (London: Longmans, 1913)

Peace in India, how to attain it (London: Longmans, 1922)


Anglo-Indian Studies (London: Longmans, 1913), preface

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1856

Maharani of Baroda, George Birdwood, John Murray (publisher)

Cobden Club, Royal Asiatic Society

Contributions to periodicals: 

Asiatic Quarterly Review

Calcutta Review

The Fortnightly Review

The Hibbert Journal

Indian Review

Nineteenth Century

Precise DOB unknown: 

The Athenæum, 16 August 1913 (Anglo-Indian Studies)

The Times (Life and Letters of Sir John Hall)

The Morning Post (Life and Letters of Sir John Hall)

Contemporary Review (Life and Letters of Sir John Hall)

The Times (Indian Problems)

The Athenaeum (Indian Problems)

Saturday Review (Indian Problems)

The Times (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

The Morning Post (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

Contemporary Review (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

Spectator (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

Literary World (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

Manchester Guardian (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

The Daily Chronicle (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

Outlook (The Position of Women in Indian Life)

Conservative and Unionist Women's Franchise Review (The Position of Women in Indian Life)


My book, "Indian Problems", has not only been well received by the British Press, but has been quoted by Lord Curzon in a Debate in the House of Lords. Among my humble suggestions therein which aroused attention was the granting of the Victoria Cross to members of the Native Army, which was graciously taken into consideration by the King-Emperor, with the result that the much-coveted V. C. is now within the reach of my countrymen. Such circumstances have encouraged me to publish the present volume, "Anglo-Indian studies".

Other names: 

S. M. Mitra

Date of death: 
01 Jan 1925
Precise date of death unknown: 
Tags for Making Britain: 

British Museum


The British Museum was established by an Act of Parliament on 7 June 1753, but the origins of the Museum lie with Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), who wanted his collection of more than 71,000 objects, along with his library and herbarium, to be preserved after his death. On 15 January 1759, the British Museum opened to the public and access to view the collections became possible. The round Reading Room at the centre of the museum was constructed from 1854 to 1857.

It is this Reading Room which was frequented by a number of South Asians and their English friends. An article in the Star in January 1926 describes the constituency of the Reading Room thus: ‘From the Centre Desk…to the circumference, long tables radiate like the spokes of a spider’s web; and here sit hundreds of human flies, male and female, black, white, yellow and brown; some digging hard in pursuit of knowledge and scratching their heads at the hard words, others curled up and sleeping like babes’ (quoted in Harris, p. 29).

On his arrival in Britain as a student in 1888, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi used the Reading Room. Other South Asian users include Fredoon Kabraji, Sasadhar Sinha, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, Cedric Dover, Aubrey Menen, the writer Mulk Raj Anand and his friend Nikhil Sen. Jomo Kenyatta also frequented the Reading Room when he studied at the London School of Economics.

In Conversations in Bloomsbury (1981), Anand relates a meeting between himself, his friend Nikhil Sen and literary critic Bonamy Dobree in the Museum Tavern. Anand also records meetings with Aldous Huxley, Laurence Binyon (who was Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum at the time) and Emily Richardson in the Reading Room.

Secondary works: 

Anand, Mulk Raj, Conversations in Bloomsbury (London: Wildwood House, 1981)

Barwick, George Frederick, The Reading Room of the British Museum (London: Ernest Benn, 1929)

British Museum, British Museum Reading Room, 1857-1957: Centenary Exhibition, etc. (London, 1957)

Caygill, Marjorie L., The British Museum Reading Room (London: Published for the Trustees of the British Museum, 2000)

Crook, Joseph M., The British Museum (London: Allen Lane, 1972)

Esdaile, Arundell, The British Museum Library: A Short History and Survey (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1946)

Fortescue, George K., A Guide to the Use of the Reading Room (London, 1912)

Harris, P. R., The Reading Room (London: British Library, 1979)

Harris, P. R., A History of the British Museum Library, 1753-1973 (London: British Library, 1998)

Hunt, James D., Gandhi in London (New Delhi: Promilla & Co., 1978)
Menen, Aubrey, Dead Man in the Silver Market: An Autobiographical Essay on National Pride (London: Chatto & Windus, 1954)
Miller, Edward, Prince of Librarians: The Life and Times of Antonio Panizzi of the British Museum (London: Andre Deutsch, 1967)
Miller, Edward, That Noble Cabinet: A History of the British Museum (London: Andre Deutsch, 1973)
Peddie, Robert Alexander, The British Museum Reading Room: A Handbook for Students (London: Grafton & Co., 1912)
Penn, J., For Readers Only (London: Chapman & Hall, 1936)
Date began: 
07 Jun 1753
Key Individuals' Details: 

Laurence Binyon (Keeper of Prints and Drawings), Sir Hans Sloane (founder).

Archive source: 

Readers' signature books, applications for admission (including testimonials) and various indexes, British Museum Archives


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