T. B. Pandian


T. B. Pandian visited London in 1893 and produced a travel narrative that was published in 1897.

Published works: 

The Cooly Life in Ceylon (Palamcottah, 1918)

England to an Indian Eye, or English Pictures from an Indian Camera (London: Elliot Stock, 1897)

Indian Village Folk: Their Work and Ways (London: Elliot Stock, 1897)

Pandian and the Pariahs: Being a Comprehensive Account of Mr T. B. Pandian's Visit to England in the Interest of the Pariahs (Madras: s.n., 1895)

Slaves of the Soul in Southern India (Madras: n.p., 1899)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1863
Precise DOB unknown: 

The Speaker, 26 Feb. 1898

 Asiatic Review, 1899 (Indian Village Folk)


Secondary works: 

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

Sandhu, Sukhdev, London Calling: How Black and Asian Writers Imagined a City (London: HarperCollins, 2003)

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

Other names: 

Thomas B. Pandian

Rev. T. B. Pandian

Tags for Making Britain: 

Alice Maude Sorabji Pennell


Alice Maude (Sorabji) Pennell was born in Belgaum, India, on 17 July 1874, the youngest of eight children of Sorabji Kharsedji and Franscina Sorabji. The family were descended from a small Zoroastrian community and Kharsedji was one of the earliest converts to Christianity. Settled in Poona, where Franscina founded and ran the Victoria High School, the children were, like their parents, ‘brought up English’, with strong educational values.

Alice came to England in the late 1890s. After qualifying at the London School of Medicine in 1905 she returned to India, and was working as a doctor at the Zenana Hospital in Bahawalpur when she first met the British missionary doctor Theodore Leighton Pennell in 1906. He had established a mission hospital at Bannu on the North-West Frontier and was renowned for adopting native dress and travelling unarmed in the hostile tribal areas; it was said that ‘the presence of Pennell on the Frontier is equal to that of two British regiments’.
Married in 1908 and widowed in 1912 when Theodore died from blood poisoning, Pennell was awarded an OBE for her work at Bannu where she remained until after the Third Anglo-Afghan War (1919). By 1925 she was living in London and had written her first novel which she successfully submitted to John Murray for publication as Children of the Border, relating the life of an Afghan chieftain’s wife on the Frontier. The Begum’s Son was published in 1928 and Doorways of the East which dealt with ‘modern affairs, unrest and political strife’ in 1931. This latter was intended by Pennell as a call for friendship and understanding between India and Britain during the Round Table Conferences (1930-2). None of her books sold beyond their original print-runs of 2,000 copies, and the latter two made losses for the publishers, who rejected her fourth novel, about an Afghan woman’s revenge.
During the 1930s and 1940s Pennell gave talks on Indian life, women and health at various literary and medical venues, including a radio broadcast in 1929 for the ‘Life in Foreign Lands’ series. She travelled widely, often with her friend Queen Elisabeth of Greece, and addressed groups of women doctors and other professional women – Austrian and American – while visiting Vienna, glad of the ‘many opportunities of speaking of the British point of view – and that of us who are loyal to Britain’. This was especially to counterbalance the widespread influences of both ‘our megalomaniac Gandhi’ and the American Katherine Mayo’s imperialist diatribe Mother India, considered by Pennell to be ‘not always true and very one sided’. It was support for this controversial book which damaged the social and political standing in India of her sister Cornelia Sorabji, one of the first women lawyers and a prolific author herself.
Pennell died at the Convent of the Holy Rood in Findon, Sussex, on 7 March 1951. Her obituary in The Times, written by her friend Brenda Spender, literary editor of Country Life, noted that like all the ‘outstanding personalities’ of the Sorabji family, Pennell ‘bore the hall-mark of fervent Christianity and complete devotion to the British throne’.


Published works: 

The Hero of the Afghan Frontier: The Splendid Story of T. L. Pennell retold for Boys and Girls (London: Revell 1912; London: Seeley, Service, 1915)

Pennell of the Afghan Frontier: The Life of Theodore Leighton Pennell (London: Seeley, Service; New York: E P Dutton, 1914)

Children of the Border (London: Murray, 1926)

The Begum’s Son (London: Murray, 1928)

Doorways of the East: An Indian Novel (London: Murray, 1931)


Letter dated 2 October 1931, book file for Doorways of the East, Acc 12927/242, John Murray Archives, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Date of birth: 
17 Jul 1874

Her last novel Doorways of the East dealt with ‘modern affairs, unrest and political strife’ with characters depicting a spectrum of Indian, British and Anglo-Indian responses from the ultra-conservatives to anarchists who followed ‘our megalomaniac Gandhi’. Pennell wanted the book to be published before the Second Round Table Conference of Autumn 1931, to both inform readers and take advantage of the interest in Indian affairs. After the book was published, Pennell visited Vienna. A letter to her publisher, John Murray, detailed the interest amongst Austrian and American professionals there in events in India. Pennell was hoping to have her latest novel translated into German for the Austrian and German markets.


Cornelia Sorabji (sister), Richard Kharsedji Sorabji (brother), Dr Theodore Leighton Pennell of Bannu on India’s North West Frontier (husband), Brenda Spender (friend), HM Queen Elisabeth of Greece (friend and travel companion), Brigadier General Charles Bruce, Field-Marshall Earl Roberts of Kandahar.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Cornhill Magazine (submitted story, September 1925)


Academy 86, January - June 1914, p. 231

Geographical Journal 44.4, October 1914, p. 400

TLS, 10 December 1926, p. 558

TLS, 5 August 1928, p. 714

Morning Post, 5 June 1931

Country Life, June 1931

TLS, 9 July 1931, p. 544


I had many opportunities of speaking of the British point of view - and that of us who are loyal to Britain...Though I am not a great writer, I can give a fair picture of both sides, I think, as my great aim is to help friendship between Britain and India  especially; and I look for International understanding as the solution of our difficulties

Secondary works: 

Burton, Antoinette, At the Heart of Empire: Indians and the Colonial Encounter in Late-Victorian Britain (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1998)

Gooptu, Suparna, Cornelia Sorabji: India Pioneer Woman Lawyer, A Biography (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Innes, C. L., A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain, 1700-2000, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)


With the duality of Indian birth and English upbringing and marriage, Pennell’s work - ‘written with the understanding that is mine from being myself Indian, and yet with an appreciation of the western point of view, because of my western education and connections’ – attempted to hold on to a vision of benign British rule over an Indian empire. Sales figures for Doorways of the East were poor in Britain and India, and American publishers had declined it; Pennell was trying to widen the appeal (and sales) of her work.

Archive source: 

John Murray Archives, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Involved in events: 

Lady Carmichael of Skirling’s Reception of Round Table Conference at the British Indian Union rooms, Grosvenor Gardens, London, 25 November 1930 (attended)
East India Association Reception at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, to meet representatives of India at the Imperial Conference, 11 June 1937 (attended)
His Majesty’s Government Reception at Lancaster House, St James’s, in honour of the 9th Imperial Social Hygiene Congress, 12 July 1939 (attended)
Talk on ‘The Women of India’ at City Literary Institute, London, 3 April 1943
Talk on ‘Health in India' at Ling Physical Education Association, Homerton College, Cambridge, 20 April 1943
Talk at Society of Women Journalists, Stationers’ Hall, London, 9 January 1947

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Ailsa Sorabji

Mrs Theodore Pennell

Date of death: 
07 Mar 1951
Location of death: 
Findon, Sussex
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1899
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

Not before 1894, perhaps nearer to 1899; medical training until 1905; visit 1910; from 1920s to death in 1951, between extended visits to India and travels in America, Europe and the Middle East


Ayahs' Home


According to evidence given to the India Office in 1910 by Mrs S. Dunn, Matron of the Ayahs' Home, the Home had been founded by a committee of women who had resolved there should be a place to house stranded ayahs in England. The Ayahs' Home appears to have been founded in 1825 in Aldgate by a Mrs Rogers (according to an advert in The Times on 3 December 1868, although there are conflicting reports about the exact date and manner of foundation). It provided shelter for ayahs whose employment had been terminated upon arriving in Britain and found employment and passage back to India for them with British families who were travelling there. The employer who brought the ayah to Britain usually provided the ayah's return ticket, which was surrendered to the Home. The matron then 'sold' the ticket to a family requiring the ayah's services and in the meantime, before the travel date, the Home would use the money to pay for the ayah's board and lodging.

Supported by Christian Missionaries, in 1900 the London City Mission (LCM) took over the organization of the Home as it moved from its premises in Jewry Street in Aldgate to King Edward's Road in Hackney. In 1921, it moved from 26 King Edward's Road to more spacious premises at 4 King Edward's Road. This new opening was inaugurated by Lady Chelmsford, the wife of the former Viceroy of India. The Home was not merely a hostel, but a venue for missionaries to try and convert the ayahs to Christianity. The Foreigner's Branch Committee of the LCM often held 'Foreigners' Fetes' where ayahs were prominent members of the diverse company. Mrs Dunn told the India Office in 1910 that the Home dealt with about ninety ayahs a year. The Home was designed not only for Indian ayahs but also for nurse-maids from other countries such as China who were similarly brought over by families and required assistance in returning. The travelling season was March to November and so the Home was practically empty from November to March. During the First World War, women were not allowed to travel by sea and so there were many more stranded ayahs during those years.

Secondary works: 

London City Mission Magazine, in particular issues from 1877 to 1922

Marshall, A. C. 'Nurses of Ocean Highways', The Quiver: The Magazine for the Home 57 (1922), pp. 924-5

Visram, Rozina, Ayahs, Lascars and Princes (London: Pluto Press, 1986)

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

Key Individuals' Details: 

Mrs S. Dunn (matron)


Viscountess Chelmsford, Joseph Salter.

Archive source: 

Series L/PJ/6, in particular L/PJ/6/881 and L/PJ/6/936, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Report of the Committee on Distressed Colonial and Indian Subjects, with evidence from Mrs S. Dunn of the Ayahs Home, L/PJ/6/925 [alternative reference: Parliamentary Paper Cd.5134], India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

See also adverts in The Times for ayahs requesting employment


King Edward's Road Hackney
London, E9 7RY
United Kingdom
Jewry Street Aldgate
London, EC3N 2PJ
United Kingdom

Saint Nihal Singh


Born in 1884, St Nihal Singh was a journalist. He lived and travelled through the USA, Canada and Japan as well as living in Britain with his wife, Cathleyne. He was educated at Punjab University. Saint Nihal Singh was a prolific writer for American, British and Indian publications.

Published works: 

India's Fighting Troops (London: George Newnes, 1914) 

India's Fighters: Their Mettle, History and Services to Britain (London: Sampson Low, Marston & Co., 1914)

Progressive British India, 'Manuals for Christian Thinkers' series (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1914)  

Japan's Modernization, 'Manuals for Christian Thinkers' series (London: Charles H. Kelly, 1914)

The King's Indian Allies: The Rajas and their India, with illustrations (London: Sampson Low & Co., 1916)

India and the War (London: Britain & India Association, 1918)

Ruling India by Bullets and Bombs: Effect of the doctrine of force upon the future of Indo-British relations (London: Saint Nihal Singh, 1920)

(with Cathleyne St Nihal Singh) "Dry" America: An Object-Lesson to India (Ganesh, 1921)

Ceylon: New and Old (Colombo: Ceylon Government Railway, 1928)

Shree Bhagvat Sinhjee: the maker of modern Gondal (Gondal: Golden Jubilee Committee, 1934)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1884

Surendranath Banerjea, Kedar Nath Das Gupta, James Ramsay Macdonald, Motilal Nehru, Cathleyne Nihal Singh (wife), George Russell (AE), N. C. Sen, Rabindranath Tagore, Rathindranath Tagore, William Butler Yeats.

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Asiatic Review

The Bookman (Oct. 1918) (Review of Tagore)

The Contemporary Review

The Edinburgh Review (1912)

The Englishwoman (May 1910)

The Fornightly (1910, 1912)

The Indian Magazine and Review (Journal of National Indian Association)

The Lady

The London Quarterly Review

The Nineteenth Century and After (1911, 1913)

Pearson's Magazine

The Observer (special correspondent during Prince of Wales' visit to India 1921-2)

The Strand Magazine

Vanity Fair

The Windsor (1915)

On Tagore: 'The Myriad-minded poet', Calcutta Municipal Gazette: Tagore Memorial Special Supplement (13 Sept. 1941)

International Journals:

The African Methodist Episcopal Church Review

The American Review of Reviews

The Literary Digest (New York)

The New York Times

The Hindustan Review

The Hindustan Times

The Hindu

The Modern Review

Precise DOB unknown: 

New York Times, 17 January 1915 & 23 July 1916

Scottish Geographical Journal, 1916

Britain and India, February 1920


Archive source: 

Letter from Clifford Sharp to St Nihal Singh, 1 Sept. 1915, New Statesman - First World War Correspondence, Brotherton Collection, Leeds University Library

Letters to Rufus Daniel Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading (1860-1935), Viceroy of India 1921-26, from St Nihal Singh (1921) - Mss Eur F118/8/35-37, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Other names: 

St Nihal Singh


46 Overhill Road
East Dulwich, London, SE22 0PN
United Kingdom
51° 26' 53.7828" N, 0° 3' 54.6444" W

46 Overhill Road, East Dulwich, London (living here at least 1914-16)

Sayaji Rao


Sayaji Rao was the son of Kashi Rao, a village headman, who belonged to the Maratha family which had created the state of Baroda in Gujarat during the eighteenth century. He took the name Sayaji Rao III when he was installed on the gadi or throne of Baroda in May 1875. Sayaji Rao was invested with governing powers in December 1881, shortly before his nineteenth birthday.

In order to relieve health problems reputedly brought on by overwork and variously described as neurasthenia or nervous prostration, sleeplessness, and gout, he made his first trip to England in 1887. Various Indian figures worked for the Maharaja. Dadabhai Naoroji was his Minister in 1874, and Aravinda Ghose worked in the Baroda service after his return from England in 1893. He sponsored B. R. Ambedkar's education in Bombay and the USA.

Sayaji Rao' second wife, Chimnabai II, was the first president of the All-India Women's Conference in 1927. She co-wrote The Position of Women in Indian Life (1911) with S. M. Mitra. Sayaji Rao had three children from his first marriage and three children from his second. His daughter from his second marriage married the Prince of Cooch Behar and was well-known in 'society' circles in London in the 1920s and 1930s. Sayaji Rao was known to openly support the Indian National Congress, but was awarded a GCIE in 1919.

After 1919 Sayaji Rao travelled and lived in Europe and Britain for several months each year. After spending most of the 1930s travelling to seek relief for health problems at various European spas, Sayaji Rao III returned to India in November 1938. He died in Bombay on 6 February 1939.

Published works: 

Notes on the Famine Tour by His Highness the Maharaja Gaekwar (London: s.n., 1901)

Speeches and Addresses (Cambridge: Privately printed at the University Press, 1927)

(with Alban Gregory Widgery) Speeches & Addresses ... 1877-1927. With a Portrait, Etc. (London: Macmillan & Co., 1928)

(with Anthony Xavier Soares) Speeches and Addresses ... Selected and Edited by Anthony X. Soares (London: Oxford University Press, 1933)

(with Cyril Ernest Newham and Kenneth Saunders) Speeches & Addresses of His Highness Sayaji Rao III, Maharaja of Baroda, Etc., Vols. 3 & 4

Date of birth: 
11 Mar 1863

B. R. Ambedkar, Fanindranath Bose (sculptor), Sunity Devee (Maharani of Cooch Behar - mother-in-law of his daughter), Romesh Chunder Dutt, Aravinda Ackroyd Ghose, S. M. Mitra (wrote with his wife), Dadabhai Naoroji.

Secondary works: 

Bhagavan, M. B., 'Higher Education and the "Modern": Negotiating Colonialism and Nationalism in Princely Mysore and Baroda', (PhD Thesis, University of Texas, 1999)

Bottomore, S., '"Have You Seen the Gaekwar Bob?": Filming the 1911 Delhi Durbar', Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 17 (1997), pp. 309-45

Copland, I., 'The Baroda Crisis of 1873–77', Modern Asian Studies 2 (1968), pp. 97-123

Copland, I., 'Sayaji Rao Gaekwar and "Sedition"', in Peter Robb and David Taylor (eds) Rule, Protest, Identity: Aspects of Modern South Asia (London: Curzon Press, 1978), pp. 28-48

Gaekwad, Fatesinhrao, Maharaja of Baroda, Sayajirao of Baroda: The Prince and the Man (London: Sangam, 1989)

Gense, James H., Banaji, D. R., and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, The Gaikwads of Baroda. English Documents. Edited by J. H. Gense ... D. R. Banaji. Vol. 2-10 (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., 1937)

Hardiman, D., 'Baroda: The Structure of a Progressive State', in Robin Jeffrey (ed.) People, Princes and Paramount Power: Society and Politics in the Indian Princely States (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 107-35

Nuckolls, C. W., 'The Durbar Incident', Modern Asian Studies 24 (1990), pp. 529-59

Ramusack, Barbara N., 'Gaikwar [Gaekwar], Sayaji Rao [Sayaji Rao III], Maharaja of Baroda (1863–1939)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Rice, Percival Stanley Pitcairn, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, Life of Sayaji Rao III Maharaja of Baroda, 2 vol. (London: Oxford University Press, 1931)

Sergeant, Philip Walsingham, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, The Ruler of Baroda. An Account of the Life and Work of the Maharaja Gaekwar (Sayajirao iii) (London: John Murray, 1928)

The Times (7 Feb 1939)

Weeden, Edward St Clair, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, A Year with the Gaekwar of Baroda ... With 25 Illustrations from Photographs, Etc (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1912)

Widgery, Alban Gregory, and Maharaja of Baroda Sayaji Rao Gaekwar III, Goods and Bads. Outlines of a Philosophy of Life: Being the Substance of a Series of Talks and Discussions with H. H. The Maharajah Gaekwar of Baroda (Baroda, 1920)  

Archive source: 

MSS, Gujarat State Archives, Southern Circle, Vadodara, Gujarat, India

Wodehouse MSS, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Hardinge MSS, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Other names: 

Sayaji Rao, Maharaja of Baroda III

Sayaji Rao Gaekwad

Date of death: 
06 Feb 1939
Location of death: 
Bombay, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1887
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1887, early 1930s.

Tags for Making Britain: 

Agatha Harrison


Agatha Harrison was a welfare worker, pacifist and Quaker, and dedicated to the struggle for Indian independence. Her father was a Methodist minister, and her mother the daughter of a portrait painter. Born in Berkshire, the family moved to Jersey and then, on Agatha’s father’s death, to Bristol, where she attended Redland High School, helping out at the school in exchange for the waiving of her fees. From the age of 16, she taught and assisted at Kent College, Folkestone, where she received training for the Froebel teaching certificate by night. She then turned to welfare work at Boots Chemist in Nottingham, and at Dairycoates, a tin box factory in Hull, where her role was to protect the interests of the women who worked there, negotiating fair wages and better working conditions on their behalf. In 1917 she was appointed welfare tutor at the London School of Economics. Three years later she travelled to China to conduct welfare work in factories there and to undertake an industrial survey.

In 1928, Agatha Harrison began working with the Women’s International League, an organization whose concerns included the relationship between India and Britain and which, to that end, welcomed representative Indian women visiting London and sent British representatives to sessions of the All-India Women’s Conference. She also accompanied the Royal Commission on Labour, as Beryl Power’s assistant, on their international tour which included a visit to India to inspect their factories, workshops and villages. Back in the UK, she helped C. F. Andrews in his preparation for Gandhi’s visit to attend the Second Round Table Conference in 1931, eventually becoming Andrews’ assistant. Thus began an extensive correspondence and working relationship with Gandhi. She worked hard to spread his message in Britain and accompanied his party on visits to the poor in India. She also made various trips to India as part of the India Conciliation Group where she visited jails and attended meetings with prominent political figures.

Agatha Harrison attended numerous India League meetings, also speaking at some of them, and was kept under surveillance by the Indian Political Intelligence. In May 1946, her name was added to the ‘stop list’ of people who should not be permitted to enter India without prior consultation. She died of an unsuspected heart condition in May 1954. Speaking at a tribute to her in London, Krishna Menon said of Harrison: ‘she had no office or title, and no flags were lowered for her, but all over India people honour her name’ (Harrison, p. 131).


L/PJ/12/444, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, pp. 2, 22

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1885

1. Secret note on Agatha Harrison, 1932 (p. 2)

2. Secret note on Agatha Harrison, 17 September 1942 (p. 22)


Horace Alexander, L. S. Amery, C. F. Andrews, Mahadev Desai, Stafford Cripps, M. K. Gandhi, Lord Halifax, Carl Heath (Quaker), Edward Heath, Muriel Lester (accompanied Harrison on trip to India in 1934), V. K. Krishna Menon, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Rajendra Prasad, Sasadhar Sinha.

Independent Labour Party, Indian Conciliation Group, Peace Pledge Union, Society of Friends, Women's International League, YWCA.

Precise DOB unknown: 

1. I understand her to be sentimental, well-intentioned and harmless. A friend of mine who knows her recently described her as 'not capable of doing any harm or good. She is a worthy sort of person who distresses herself quite unnecessarily about the state of affairs in India'.

2. Briefly she is a high-souled crank who with the best intentions continually makes a nuisance of herself to those responsible for law and order, by encouraging extreme Indian nationalists whom she regarded as the blameless victims of brutal British imperialism.

Secondary works: 

Harrison, Irene, Agatha Harrison: An Impression by her Sister (London: Allen & Unwin, 1957)


These descriptions of Agatha Harrison emphasize the role of gender in shaping discourses about political activists involved in the struggle for Indian independence. The mismatch between the dismissive and infantilizing tone of the official reports and the activities carried out by Harrison as well as her close links with Gandhi and Menon is particularly instructive in this regard. This also points to the unusualness of a woman involved in political activism. Harrison’s involvement with both the rights of working women in Britain and the mobilization for Indian independence highlights the connections between these different struggles.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/444, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

India League meetings

City of birth: 
Sandhurst, Berks
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
10 May 1954
Location of death: 
Geneva, Switzerland

2 Cranbourne Court, Albert Bridge Road, London (1935)

Lawrence Durrell


Lawrence George Durrell was born in Jullundur, Punjab, India, in 1912 to Lawrence Samuel Durrell and Louisa Florence Dixie, both of whom were also born in India.

In 1923, the family relocated to England where Durrell attended St Olave's and St Saviour's in Southwark before going to St Edmund's College, Canterbury, which he left in 1927. He despised the gloom of London and longed for the security of colonial superiority in India. After his father's death in 1928, he assumed a bohemian lifestyle in London, and attempted to make a name for himself as a poet.

Durrell's first book of poems, Quaint Fragment, was published in 1931, but it was not until the publication of his novel The Black Book in 1938 that he gained some recognition. He befriended other writers such as Henry Miller, Anais Nin, T. S. Eliot and Dylan Thomas. In late 1938, Durrell arranged a dinner for Eliot and Miller which was also attended by M. J. Tambimuttu; Durrell entertained his guests with songs, one of which he dedicated to Tambimuttu. Durrell also contributed to the first issue of Tambimuttu's Poetry London. The two become good friends, and stayed in touch even after Durrell moved to Greece and later to Egypt. Tambimuttu included Durrell in his Poetry in Wartime (1942) and Durrell continued to contribute pieces for Poetry London.

Durrell only returned to England for short periods when he often met Tambimuttu. The two also met in New York after Tambimuttu moved there. Durrell's later years were marred by several divorces and the deaths of close friends. He spent his last years in France where he died on 7 November 1990.

Published works: 

Quaint Fragment (London: Cecil Press, 1931)

Ballad of Slow Decay (1932)

Ten Poems (London: Caduceus Press, 1932)

Pied Piper of Lovers (London: Cassell, 1935)

The Black Book: An Agon (Paris: Obelisk Press, 1938)

'Epitaph', 'Island Fugue', 'The Green Man', 'In a Time Crisis', and 'Letter to Seferis the Greek', in Poetry in Wartime: An Anthology, ed. by M. J. Tambimuttu (London: Faber & Faber, 1942), pp. 41-50

A Private Country (London: Faber & Faber, 1943)

Cities, Plains and People: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1945)

Cefalu: A Novel (London: Editions Poetry London, 1947)

On Seeming to Presume: Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1948)

Deus Loci: A Poem (Ischia, 1950)

Sappho: A Play in Verse (London: Faber & Faber, 1950)

Key to Modern Poetry (London and New York: Peter Nevill, 1952)

The Tree of Idleness, and Other Poems (London: Faber & Faber, 1955)

Esprit de Corps: Sketches from Diplomatic Life (London: Faber & Faber, 1957)

Justine: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1957)

White Eagles over Serbia: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1957)

Balthazar (London: Faber & Faber, 1958)

The Dark Labyrinth (London: Harborough Publishing Co., 1958)

Mountolive (London: Faber & Faber, 1958)

Stiff Upper Lip (London: Faber & Faber, 1958)

Clea (London: Faber & Faber, 1959)

The Alexandria Quartet (London: Faber & Faber, 1962)

An Irish Faustus: A Morality in Nine Scenes (London: Faber & Faber, 1963)

A Persian Lady (Edinburgh: Tragara Press, 1963)

ACTE: A Play (London: Faber & Faber, 1965)

Tunc (London: Faber & Faber, 1968)

Nunquam (London: Faber & Faber, 1970)

The Red Limbo Lingo: A Poetry Notebook (London: Faber & Faber, 1971)

On the Suchness of the Old Boy (London: Turret Books, 1972)

The Plant-Magic Man (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1973)

Monsieur, or, The Prince of Darkness (London: Faber & Faber, 1974)

The Revolt of Aphrodite (London: Faber & Faber, 1974)

Blue Thirst (Santa Barbara: Capra Press, 1975)

Sicilian Carousel (London: Faber & Faber, 1977)

Livia, or, Buried Alive: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1978)

Sebastian, or, Ruling Passions: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1980)

A Smile in the Mind's Eye (London: Wildwood House, 1980)

Quinx, or, the Ripper's Tale: A Novel (London: Faber & Faber, 1985)

Caesar's Vast Ghost: Aspects of Provence (London: Faber & Faber, 1990)

The Avignon Quintet (London: Faber & Faber, 1992)

Date of birth: 
27 Feb 1912

T. S. Eliot (edited his books at Faber & Faber), M. J. Tambimuttu, Dylan Thomas.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Delta (in which he published with Tambimuttu)

Poetry London

Secondary works: 

Aldington, Richard, Literary Lifelines: The Richard Aldington-Lawrence Durrell Correspondence, ed. by Ian S. MacNiven and Harry T. Moore (London: Faber & Faber, 1981)

Baldwin, Peter, Conon's Songs from Exile: The Limited Edition Publications of Lawrence Durrell (Birmingham: Delos, 1992)

Begnal, Michael H., On Miracle Ground: Essays on the Fiction of Lawrence Durrell (London: Associated University Presses, 1990)

Bowker, Gordon, Through the Dark Labyrinth: A Biography of Lawrence Durrell (London: Sinclair-Stevenson, 1996)

Cardiff, Maurice, Friends Abroad: Memories of Lawrence Durrell, Freya Stark, Patrick Leigh-Fermor, Peggy Gugenheim and Others (London: Radcliffe, 1997)

Durrell, Gerald, My Family and Other Animals (London: Hart-Davis, 1956)

Fraser, G. S., Lawrence Durrell: A Study (London: Faber & Faber, 1968)

Friedman, Alan Warren, Critical Essays on Lawrence Durrell (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987)

MacNiven, I. S., ‘Durrell, Lawrence George (1912–1990)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

MacNiven, I. S. (ed.) The Durrell-Miller Letters, 1935-80 (London: Faber & Faber, 1988)

MacNiven, I. S., Lawrence Durrell: A Biography (London: Faber & Faber, 1998)

Meredith, Don, Where the Tigers Were: Travels Through Literary Landscapes (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000)

Moore, Harry T., The World of Lawrence Durrell (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1962)

Papayanis, Marilyn Adler, Writing in the Margins: The Ethics of Expatriation from Lawrence to Ondaatje (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 2005)

Perlès, Alfred, My Friend Lawrence Durrell: An Intimate Memoir on the Author of the Alexandria Quartet (Northwood: Scorpion Press, 1961)

Pine, Richard, Lawrence Durrell: The Mindscape (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994)

Robinson, Jeremy, Lawrence Durrell: Between Love and Death, Between East and West (Kidderminster: Crescent Moon, 1995)

Rook, Robin, At the Foot of the Acropolis: A Study of Lawrence Durrell's Novels (Birmingham: Delos Press, 1995)

Sajavaara, Kari, Imagery in Lawrence Durrell's Prose (Helsinki: Société Néophilologique, 1975)

Shaffer, Brian W., A Companion to the British and Irish Novel, 1945-2000 (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005) 

St. Joseph's College, A Century Observed: Souvenir of St. Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, 1888-1988 (Darjeeling: The College, 1988)

Vander Closter, Susan, Joyce Cary and Lawrence Durrell: A Reference Guide (Boston, MA: G. K. Hall, 1985)

Archive source: 

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Bibliothèque Lawrence Durrell, Université de Paris, Nanterre, France

Correspondence and Mss, incl. MS of Justine, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Gwyn Williams, British Library, St Pancras

Letters and literary Mss, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas

Literary Mss, University of California, Los Angeles

Correspondence and corrected proof of Balthazar, University of British Columbia, Canada

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Lawrence George Durrell

Date of death: 
07 Nov 1990
Location of death: 
Sommières, France
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
27 Apr 1923
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

27 April 1923 - 22 May 1939


36 Hillsborough Road, London

Tags for Making Britain: 

Pulin Behari Seal


Pulin Behari Seal was born to Ganga Das Seal of Sadarghat, Chittagong, Bengal, in 1899. He came to Britain for higher education, attending the University of Cambridge where he studied mathematics. He quickly showed himself dedicated to the struggle for Indian independence, first attracting the attention of the authorities in 1922 when campaigning for the Lascar Welfare League.

After graduating from Cambridge, Seal sought employment without much success. He offered his services to the Labour MP George Lansbury, and applied for a research scholarship at the London School of Economics, proposing to write a thesis on the history of Ireland. His return to India in 1924 could well have been precipitated by a lack of funds. A few months later he was back in London as representative of the Swaraj Party and foreign correspondent of the Calcutta-based newspaper Forward (edited by C. R. Das), which later became New Forward and then Liberty.

On his return to England, Seal established himself firmly as a radical political activist as well as a journalist. In 1925, he debated successfully against Michael O’Dwyer on the subject of self-government in India at the University of Leeds Student Union. He was an active member of the London branch of the Indian National Congress, and highly critical of the Simon Commission Report, as well as the Round Table Conferences – both for being ‘anti-Indian’. In 1926, he founded the Oriental Press Service, a service for supplying Indian news to British and US publications and British news to Indian publications. This enabled him to disseminate information (and propaganda) between the two countries, potentially helping to forge links between the British Left and Indian activists. For example, in 1928, he sent photographs of Indian mill strikers and their families living in impoverished conditions for publication in one of the outlets of the Communist Party of Great Britain. Critical of the Labour Party (he claimed their attitude to India was no better than that of the Conservatives), as well as of less radical Indian organizations, Seal aligned himself more closely with the Communist Party, associating with Shapurji Saklatvala in particular. Yet evidence suggests his relationship with the CPGB also had its tensions. With other Indian activists, including Surat Alley and Sasadhar Sinha, he organized a committee to coordinate Indian political groups, the Indian National Committee, and held political meetings at the Café Indien (later known as the India and Burma Restaurant) in Leicester Square. He was also a leader, along with Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew, Amiya Nath Bose, of the Committee of Indian Congressmen.

Seal was considered an ‘extremist’ and a deeply suspect character by the British Government, particularly because of his support of Subhas Chandra Bose and alleged pro-Axis leanings during the Second World War. He was on the list of people who should be arrested in the event of invasion – and was threatened with arrest in 1942 when the police discovered, in the possession of one Marie Brett Perring, documents reportedly written by Seal that ‘glorified’ Subhas Chandra Bose and alleged widespread disaffection in the Indian Army. In 1946, when Seal was back in India, a note was issued to all ports indicating that his arrival into Britain should be reported immediately (L/PJ/12/186, p. 145). He was also debarred from attending functions held under the auspices of the Office of the High Commission for India.

Seal travelled to and from Europe on numerous occasions, and worked as the diplomatic correspondent in England for the Independent French Agency during the early 1940s. He was also a writer, securing a contract deal with the publishing firm Sidgwick & Jackson for ‘An Indian Who’s Who’. In addition, he founded two travel companies: Orientourist Ltd and later the East-West Travel Company which organized luxury tours to India. Despite his obvious energy and ability to turn his hand to a range of tasks, he was often beset by financial difficulties, moving frequently between different flats or hotel rooms, with his wife Judith (Jessie) Stuart and their three children. In 1941, his failure to pay rates led to his arrest and the threat of imprisonment if the money was not forthcoming within seven days. Fortunately, one of Seal’s many connections – possibly one S. E. Runganathan, advisor to the secretary of state for India – paid his debt.


L/PJ/12/186, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, p. 141

Date of birth: 
11 Feb 1899

This Indian Political Intelligence file contains numerous reports on the political activities of Pulin Behari Seal from his arrival in Britain in the 1920s until the late 1940s when India became independent. The following extract is from a Metropolitan Police Report (no. 308, dated 10 October 1945).


Surat Alley, A. C. Bannerji, Vernon Bartlett, Duke of Bedford, Wedgewood Benn (Secretary of State for India), Amiya Nath Bose, Subhas Chandra Bose, Fenner Brockway, Reginald Bridgeman, Sir Atul Chandra Chatterjee (Seal asked him for financial assistance), Khitish Chatterji, Gurdit Singh Dara, Motiram Gajanan Desai (Indian editor of the Sunday Worker), Clemens Palme Dutt, W. N. Ewer, David Thomas Raymond Jenkins, B. M. Jolly, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Dr J. Kanga, Vishna R. Karandikar, Krishna Datta Kumria, George Lansbury, Vajid Mahmood (lived with Seal for a period), Colonel C. l’Estrange Malone (former MP), Niharendu Data Mazumdar, S. P. Mitra, Art O’Brien (Irish Republican), Ambulal Jhaverbhai Patel (lived with Seal for a period), Andrew Rothenstein, K. B. Roy, M. N. Roy, Shapurji Saklatvala, B. Khalid Sheldrake, Sasadhar Sinha, Tarini Prasad Sinha, Soumyendra Nath Tagore (allegedly planned assassination attempt on Hitler, made a trip from Boulogne to Folkstone with Seal), Nathalal Jagivan Upadhyaya, J. Vaidya, C. B. Vakil.

Cafe Indien, Imperial Hotel (stayed there on visits to London when based in Wales), Independent French Agency, Indian Committee for Central European Refugees (secretary), Indian Journalists' Association Abroad (president), Indian Association, International News Service, League of Nations, National Trade Union Club, Sidgwick & Jackson.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Various Indian newspapers, including Forward

Various British newspapers

Various publications of the British Left, especially the Communist Party of Great Britain


Pulin Behari Seal…continues to reside with his family at 45, Gower Street, W.C. He has no regular employment, and is often impecunious; at the moment, however, he seems to be out of debt. He obtains money by hawking information in Fleet Street, and by borrowing as opportunity permits.

During the past few months, Seal has been taking an active part in various Indian extremist organisations, especially the Committee of Indian Congressmen and its subsidiary, the Council for the International Recognition of Indian Independence. He is president of the C.I.C., but since the return to India in October last of Amiya Nath Bose, the movement has almost ceased to have any influence in Indian politics in this country. Seal has become a discredited member of the Indian community, and even his former associates in the C.I.C have forsaken him.

Secondary works: 

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


Seal’s poverty, referred to in numerous reports by the Indian Political Intelligence, is suggestive of the sacrifices he was prepared to make in the cause of Indian independence. Despite his privileged background and University of Cambridge degree, he was constantly struggling to make ends meet while conducting his campaigning, in various forms, for a free, independent India. His lack of popularity among other Indians in Britain, alluded to in the above report, emphasizes the different degrees of radicalism endorsed and practised by Indian activists, as well as the different factions that existed within this community. Despite the report’s dismissal of the Committee of Indian Congressmen, an organization that Seal led, Seal’s combination of journalism and activism nevertheless highlights the potential of the written word in general, as well as this particular means of communication, as a tool of transformative politics.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/186, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

‘No More War’ demonstration, Hyde Park, 28 August 1923

Meetings of the London Branch of the Indian National Congress

Naval Disarmament Conference, 1930

Second World War

City of birth: 
Roshangiri, Chittagong, Bengal
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Roshangiri, Chittagong, Bengal
Current name country of birth: 


Redcliffe Gardens Earl's Court
London, SW5 0DU
United Kingdom
51° 29' 20.6124" N, 0° 11' 23.874" W
Bessborough Street
London, SW1V 2JD
United Kingdom
51° 29' 20.6304" N, 0° 8' 0.7332" W
Fulham Park Road
London, SW6 4LH
United Kingdom
51° 28' 23.4012" N, 0° 12' 27.6984" W
Precise date of death unknown: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1920
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

c. 1920 – May 1924, December 1924 onwards, with short periods spent in France and other European countries


26 Oxford Terrace, Edgware Road, London

49 Cambridge Terrace, Edgware Road, London

6 Beaufort Gardens, Brompton Road, London

45 Prince of Wales Road, Kentish Town, London

17 Edith Grove, Chelsea, London

4 Hill Terrace, Great Orme, Llandudno

‘The Old Pioneer Stores’, Glan Conway, Denbighshire

Alhambra Hotel, Coram Street, London

47 Gwendwr Road, London

45 Gower Street, London

16 Woburn Square, London

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