J. M. R. Jayakar


Jayapal Jayakar was the son of M. R. Jayakar, a former judge of the Federal Court of India. He was sent to Oxford in 1932 by his father who enlisted the help of Dhanvathi Rama Rau and Edward Thompson to look after him when he arrived in Britain. Jayakar was unable to gain admission into Oxford University at the first attempt but remained in Oxford to study for the entrance exams, and became a member of the Oxford Majlis and Lotus Club in the meantime. He passed through Oxford in 1937 and married a British woman. Jayakar was interested in flying and became a Pilot Officer. The picture above shows Jayakar on 19 January 1940 giving Link Trainer instruction which trains pilots in a non-flying aeroplane. He was the first Indian to receive a commission in the RAF.

Archive source: 

M. R. Jayakar Papers, National Archives of India, New Delhi

E. J. Thompson Papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Portrait, National Portait Gallery, London

Involved in events: 
Other names: 

Jayapal Jayakar

Tags for Making Britain: 

The Indian Appeal


The Indian Appeal was a monthly journal set up by an Indian student at Oxford University, Hira Lal Kumar. It began in September 1889 with the aims to publicise Indian questions in the UK and provide summaries of opinions from India on these questions. The journal included discussion of the achievements of other Indian students in the UK, and events at the National Indian Association and Northbrook Club.

The subscription was 3/ per annum or 3d monthly and appeared to be financed totally by subscriptions and Kumar's efforts. The last issue was published in April 1892, as Kumar was not receiving enough subscriptions to keep up with the costs.

Other names: 

The Indian Appeal: a Monthly Magazine intended to give Expression to the bona fide Opinions of the Native and Anglo-Indian Press on Indian politics, etc.

Date began: 
01 Sep 1889
Key Individuals' Details: 

Hira Lal Kumar (editor)

Date ended: 
01 Apr 1892


38 Hayfield Road
Oxford, OX2 6TX
United Kingdom
Tags for Making Britain: 

Robert Bridges


Robert Bridges was born in Walmer, Kent, to father John Thomas Bridges and mother Harriet Elizabeth Affleck. He entered Eton College in 1854 and started writing poetry, and enrolled at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in the Michaelmas term of 1863. In 1872 he joined the Savile Club where he got to know Edmund William Gosse.

In 1884, Bridges married Monica Waterhouse, who was a cousin of Roger Fry. Through this marriage, Bridges was introduced to a younger generation of writers who included W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, Robert Graves, Virginia Woolf and E. M. Forster. In 1912, William Rothenstein introduced Bridges to Rabindranath Tagore, whom he met again in Oxford in 1913. Tagore had won the Nobel Prize for Gitanjali in 1913 and Bridges wanted to include excerpts from it in his anthology, The Spirit of Man (1915). Gitanjali had been introduced to the British public by W. B. Yeats in 1912. Yeats and Rothenstein were to play an instrumental role in the communication between Tagore and Bridges. The controversy surrounding Tagore's inclusion in Bridges' anthology stems from Bridges' desire to refine the English of one of the Gitanjali poems. But Tagore refused and it was only the intervention of Yeats, at Bridges' request, that persuaded Tagore to let Bridges make the changes. Bridges only met Tagore on very few occasions; otherwise their relationship was entirely through correspondence and mutual friends.

One of those mutual friends was Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy, a student at Oxford, who assisted Bridges in choosing 'Oriental' poems for his anthology. In a letter to Bridges dated 8 July 1914, Tagore mentions his affection for Suhrawardy: 'I am glad you speak so well of Suhrawardy for whom I felt a very great attraction when I came to know him in Oxford, and the memory of my meeting with him still gives me pleasure.'

Basanta Kumar Mallik enrolled at Oxford in 1912 and soon became a frequent guest at Bridges' Boar's Hill home, where also W. B. Yeats was a frequent visitor.

In 1913, Bridges was made poet laureate and he remained a best selling poet throughout the 1920s. He died at his home on 21 April 1930. 

Published works: 

The Growth of Love: A Poem in Twenty-Four Sonnets (London, 1876)

Prometheus the Firegiver (Oxford: Printed at the private press of H. Daniel, 1883)

Eros and Psyche: A Poem in Twelve Measures. The Story Done Into English from the Latin of Apuleius (London: Bell, 1885)

Eight Plays (London: Bell, 1885-1894)

The Feast of Bacchus (Oxford: Privately printed by H. Daniel, 1889)

The Shorter Poems of Robert Bridges (London: Bell, 1890)

Eden: An Oratorio (London: Bell, 1891)

Achilles in Scyros (London: Bell, 1892)

The Humours of the Court: A Comedy in Three Acts (London: Bell, 1893)

Milton's Prosody (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1893)

John Keats: A Critical Essay (London: Privately printed, 1895)

The Small Hymn-Book: The Word Book of the Yattendon Hymnal (Oxford: Blackwell, Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, 1899)

Poetical Works, 6 vols (London: Murray, 1898-1905)

Now in Wintry Delights (Oxford: Daniel Press, 1903)

Demeter: A Mask (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905)

On the Influence of the Audience (1907)

On the Present State of English Pronunciation (1910)

About Hymns (London, 1912)

A Tract on the Present State of English Pronunciation (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913)

The Spirit of Man: An Anthology in English and French from the Philosophers and Poets ([S.I.]: Longmans, 1915)

An Address to the Swindon Branch of the Workers' Educational Association (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1916)

Ibant Obscuri: An Experiment in the Classical Hexameter (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1916)

Ode on the Tercentenary Commemoration of Shakespeare (1916)

The Necessity of Poetry: An Address (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1918)

Britannia Victrix (London: Oxford University Press, 1919)

On English Homophones (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1919)

October, and Other Poems (London: William Heinemann, 1920)

On the Dialectical Words in Edmund Blunden's Poems (1921)

Pictoral, Picturesque, Romantic, Grotesque, Classical (1923)

Collected Essays, Papers, etc., 10 vols (London: Oxford University Press, 1923-1934)

The Chilswell Book of English Poetry (London: Longmans, 1924)

New Verse (Oxford: Clarendon, 1925)

Robert Bridges (London: Ernest Benn, 1925)

The Society's Work (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925)

The Tapestry: Poems (London: F. W. & S. M., 1925)

The Testament of Beauty (Oxford: Clarendon, 1929)

On Receiving Trivia from the Author (Stanford Dingley: Mill House Press, 1930)

Three Friends: Memoirs of Digby Mackworth Dolben, Richard Watson Dixon, Henry Bradley (London: Oxford University Press, 1932)

The Selected Letters of Robert Bridges: With the Correspondence of Robert Bridges and Lionel Muirhead, Donald E. Stanford (ed.), (Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1982-1984)


Letter to Rabindranath Tagore in Robert Bridges, The Selected Letters of Robert Bridges: With the Correspondence of Robert Bridges and Lionel Muirhead, vol. 2 (Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1984), pp. 666-667

Date of birth: 
23 Oct 1844

Letter from Bridges to Tagore concerning the inclusion of Tagore's poem 'Nest and the Sky' in Bridges anthology, The Spirit of Man.


E. M. Forster, Edmund William Gosse (met at the Savile Club), Robert Graves (neighbour at Boar's Hill), Basanta Kumar Mallik (Mallik was a frequent guest at Bridges' Boar's Hill home), Roger Fry, Harold MonroEzra Pound, William Rothenstein (Rothenstein introduced Bridges to Tagore), George Bernard Shaw, Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy (helped Bridges select 'Oriental' poems for The Spirit of Man) Rabindranath Tagore (Bridges edited and included three of Tagore's poems from Gitanjali in his 1915 anthology, The Spirit of Man), Edward John Thompson, Virginia Woolf, William Butler Yeats (persuaded Tagore to let Bridges include some of his poems in The Spirit of Man).


My dear Tagore

In my last letter I asked you if I might insert my rendering of your poem of the Nest and the Sky in my forthcoming anthology. I only want this one poem for my book and I gathered from your reply to me that you would allow me to use my version of it: but when application was made to Macmillan he refused me permission to make any change in your published version. I was much disappointed.

Secondary works: 

Bridges, Robert, The Selected Letters of Robert Bridges: With the Correspondence of Robert Bridges and Lionel Muirhead, 2 vols (Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1982-1984)

Hamilton, Lee Templin, Robert Bridges: An Annotated Bibliography, 1873-1988 (Newark: University of Delaware Press; London: Associated University Presses, 1991)

Hasan, Iqbal, Robert Bridges: A Critical Study of His Poetry, Masques and Plays (Aligarh: Printwell, 1983)

Kelshall, T. M., Robert Bridges: Poet Laureate (London: Robert Scott, 1924)

Phillips, Catherine, 'Bridges, Robert Seymour (1844-1930)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/32066]

Phillips, Catherine, Robert Bridges: A Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)

Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli, Basanta Kumar Mallik: A Garland of Homage (London: Vincent Stuart, 1961)

Rothenstein, William, Tagore, Rabindranath, and Lago, Mary M., Imperfect Encounter: Letters of William Rothenstein and Rabindranath Tagore, 1911-1914 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1972)

Ritz, Jean Georges, Robert Bridges and Gerard Hopkins, 1863-1889: A Literary Friendship (London: Oxford University Press, 1960)

Sparrow, John Hanbury Angus, Robert Bridges (London: Longmans, 1962)

Tagore, Rabindranath, Dutta, Krishna, and Robinson, Andrew, Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Thompson, Edward John, Robert Bridges, 1844-1930 (London: Oxford University Press, 1944)

Thompson, E. P., Alien Homage: Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore (Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)

Young, Francis Brett, Robert Bridges: A Critical Study (London: Martin Secker, 1914)


Indicative of the controversy surrounding the inclusion of Tagore's poem in Bridges' anthology.

Archive source: 

Letters to Rabindranath Tagore, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Robert Graves, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Edmund William Gosse, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Harold Monro, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to William Rothenstein, Bridges papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to George Bernard Shaw, British Library, St Pancras, London, and Bodleian Library, Oxford

MSS, correspondence and literary letters, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Henry Bradley, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to A. H. Bullen, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Samuel Butler, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Bertram Dobell, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Alfred Fairbank, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to H. A. L. Fisher, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Edmund Gosse, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to J. W. MacKail, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Harold Minto, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Gilbert Murray, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Henry Newbolt, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Logan Pearsall Smith in the Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to E. J. Thompson, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with W. B. Yeats, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Lascelles Abercrombie, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to A. C. Benson, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Samuel Butler, Sir Sidney Cockerell, Norman MacColl, E. W. Scripture, Charles Wood, British Library, St Pancras, London

Add. Ms 50529, correspondence with George Bernard Shaw, British Library, St Pancras, London

Add. Ms 73235, letters to G. K. Chesterton, British Library, St Pancras, London

Letters to F. J. H. Jenkinson, Cambridge University Library

Letters to Edmund Gosse, Perkins Library, Duke University

Letters to Sir William Rothenstein, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Letters to E. M. Forster, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to Roger Fry (incl. copies), King’s College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Letters to Sir Thomas Barlow; letters to Samuel Gee, Royal College of Physicians of London

Letters to C. V. Stanford, Royal College of Music, London

Letters to Percy Withers, Somerville College, Oxford

Correspondence with R. C. Trevelyan, Trinity College, Cambridge

Letters to George Bell & Sons; letters to Sir Hubert Parry and Lord Arthur Ponsonby, University of Reading Library

Letters to Sir Thomas Barlow and Lady Barlow, Wellcome Library for the History and Understanding of Medicine, London

Letters to C. H. O. Daniel, Worcester College, Oxford

City of birth: 
Walmer, Kent
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Robert Seymour Bridges

Date of death: 
21 Apr 1930
Location of death: 
Chilswell, England

35 Great Ormond Street, London (student at St. Bartholomew's Hospital; 1869)

50 Maddox Street, London (1872)

52 Bedford Square, London (1877)

Boar's Hill, outside Oxford (Bridges built Chilswell on Boar's Hill)

Edward John Thompson


Edward John Thompson was a historian, novelist and translator. He was an ordained Wesleyan (although he later resigned his ordination) and in 1910 he went to Bankura Wesleyan College in Bengal to teach English literature. In Bengal he became acquainted with Rabindranath Tagore, and was present in Santiniketan when Tagore heard that he had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. The relationship between the poet and Thompson was often marked by tension and misunderstanding.

In 1923, Thompson settled in Oxford and taught Bengali to ICS probationers. He translated works from Bengali to English, and was involved with the India Society. In 1922 he wrote the introduction to a collection of short stories by Sita and Santa Chatterjee, entitled Tales of Bengal. He became a Leverhulme Research Fellow (1934–6), and Honorary Fellow and Research Fellow in Indian history at Oriel College (1936–40). He maintained contact and correspondence with many Indians, and also formed friendships with Indian students at Oxford and other Indian visitors to the UK. The Rhodes Trust funded several visits to India by Thompson in the 1930s and it was he who suggested that the Trust provide grants and prizes for Indian writers (although these plans did not come to fruition).

Thompson was a friend to Indian politicians, including those who visited the UK for the Round Table Conferences in the 1930s. Thompson had been involved in the suggestion of inviting Jawaharlal Nehru as Rhodes Visiting Lecturer to Oxford in 1940, but Viceroy Linlithgrow advised against this visit. Thompson had close contact with other Congress leaders such as M. K. Gandhi. He died in April 1946 before he could see independence realized for the subcontinent. 

Published works: 

Rabindranath Tagore: His Life and Work (Calcutta: Association Press, 1921)

The Other Side of the Medal (London: Hogarth Press, 1925)

Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Dramatist (London: Humphrey Milford, 1926)

A History of India (London: Ernest Benn, 1927)

An Indian Day (London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1927)

Suttee (London: Allen & Unwin, 1928)

Atonement (London: Heinemann, 1929)

The Reconstruction of India (London: Faber & Faber, 1930)

A Farewell to India (London: Ernest Benn, 1931)

A Letter from India (London: Faber & Faber, 1932)

The Rise and Fulfilment of British Rule in India (London: Macmillan, 1934)

Burmese Silver (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

The Life of Charles, Lord Metcalfe (London: Faber & Faber, 1937)

The Making of the Indian Princes (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1943)

Date of birth: 
09 Apr 1886
Secondary works: 

Lago, Mary, India's Prisoner: A Biography of Edward John Thompson, 1886-1946 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2001)

Lago, Mary, ‘Thompson, Edward John (1886–1946)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, (Oxford University Press, 2004) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36487]

Parry, Benita, Delusions and Discoveries: India in the British Imagination 1880-1930 (London: Verso, 1998)

Symonds, Richard, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? (New York: St Martin's Press, 1986)

Thompson, E. P., Alien Homage: Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993)

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Lord Lothian regarding 'Indian Lectureship', Rhodes House Archives, Oxford

Papers, Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives

Elmhirst Collection, Dartington

William Rothenstein Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard

Correspondence with Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Nehru (Gandhi), Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, Delhi

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

E. J. Thompson

Date of death: 
28 Apr 1946
Location of death: 
Bledlow, Buckinghamshire

Bankura Wesleyan College, Bengal; Boars Hill, Oxford.

Tags for Making Britain: 

Jaipal Singh


Jaipal Singh was the son of a Bihari adivasi (tribal) farmer. He studied at St Paul's School in Ranchi (Bihar) and was taken under the wing of the Principal, Canon Cosgrave. He was baptized and in November 1918 accompanied Canon Cosgrave back to England - the Canon having retired from the Ranchi school to take up the parish of Darlington. Jaipal Singh arrived in England in the aftermaths of the First World War and initially stayed in Darlington with the Canon. Three wealthy unmarried women, the Forsters, helped to take care of Jaipal Singh financially. He was sent to St Augustine's College in Canterbury to train for the priesthood, but after two terms, Bishop Arthur Mesacknight, the warden, sent him to Oxford - using his connections with Dr James, the president of St John's College.

Jaipal Singh matriculated at St John's College, Oxford, in Michaelmas 1922. He was awarded the Hertfordshire Scholarship of forty pounds by Bishop Knight and the Forsters bore most of the rest of his Oxford bills. Jaipal Singh studied PPE and was awarded a 4th in 1926. He was elected Secretary in 1924 and then President in 1925 of the St John's College Debating Society. He was a member of the Essay Society, a member of the college football XI in 1925-6, and the college hockey XI throughout his time at the college. Jaipal Singh also represented the University Hockey XI in Varsity matches from 1924 to 1926 and hence was awarded a hockey Blue. Jaipal Singh started the Oxford Hermits - a sports society for 'Asiatics' in Oxford - they mainly played hockey. Jaipal Singh then took the Indian Civil Service (ICS) exams, and was a probationary student at St John's.

In the meantime, Singh was involved in Indian students' hockey tours of Europe and the formation of the India Hockey Federation. In 1928, he captained the India Hockey Team at the Amsterdam Olympics. They won all their games without conceding a goal, and were awarded the gold medal. He often frequented Veeraswamy's restaurant in Regent Street and the victorious team were also feted at the restaurant and at 21 Cromwell Road.

Having taken part in the Olympics, Singh's ICS training was delayed and he then decided to quit the ICS. Through the Darlington MP, Lord Pake Pense, Singh was introduced to Viscount Bearstead, Chairman of Shell Transport and Trading Company who arranged for a job for Singh with the Burnham-Shell Oil Storage and Distributing Company of India. He was the first Indian to be appointed to a covenanted mercantile assistant in Royal Dutch Shell group, and after a probationary period in London was sent to Calcutta. In Calcutta, Singh met many British officials, clergymen and Indians through his contacts from his time in Britain. He met and married Tara Majumdar, the daughter of P. K. and Agnes Majumdar and grand-daughter of W. C. Bonnerjee. Singh took up a number of educational posts, including a position teaching commerce at Achimota College, Gold Coast, and then soon got involved in politics back in India. Singh presided over the All-India Adibasi Mahasabha, an organization that campaigned for tribal rights. After Indian independence the party became the Jharkand Party and saw their aims realized in 2000 when Jharkand was designated a separate state from Bihar.  

Date of birth: 
03 Jan 1903

Canon Cosgrave (mentor), Verrier Elwin (friend from Oriel College), Lord Irwin (congratulated him personally through telegram for his olympics' success), Iftikhar Ali Khan (Nawab of Pataudi), Janaki Agnes Majumdar (mother-in-law), J. C. Masterman (brother of the historian, who 'godfathered' Singh when he was at Oxford), Lilamani Naidu (daughter of Sarojini Naidu, who was also studying PPE at the same time as Singh; they often sat together - she was at Lady Margaret Hall).

Contributions to periodicals: 

Wrote hockey reports for the Isis (Oxford University journal)


See reports of Oxford hockey matches and the olympics in various newspapers, including The Times

Secondary works: 

Katyayan, Rashmi (ed.), and Singh, Marang Gomke Jaipal, Lo Bir Sendra: An Autobiography (Kokar, Ranchi: Prabhat Khabar, 2004)

Archive source: 

St John's College Debating Society minute book, Essay Society minute book and Hockey XI photos, St John's College Archives, Oxford

City of birth: 
Takra Pahantoli, Bihar
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Marang Gomke Jaipal Singh


Darlington DL3 7TH
United Kingdom
54° 33' 0.3888" N, 1° 33' 40.644" W
St John's College, Oxford, OX1 3JP
United Kingdom
51° 45' 23.076" N, 1° 15' 32.6412" W
St Augustine's College CT1 1PF
United Kingdom
51° 15' 57.888" N, 1° 4' 43.3056" E
Date of death: 
20 Mar 1970
Location of death: 
Delhi, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Dec 1918
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 

Ernest Christopher Dowson


Ernest Dowson was a poet. In the late 1890s, Dowson also translated French literature into English (including Zola, Balzac and Voltaire). He was one of a batch of young poets who represent the work of the last decade of the nineteenth century in England. He was intimately involved with the Rhymers' Club in London during this period, but died at a young age (32) from a combination of drink, depression and ill-health resulting from severe financial problems.

In 1886, Dowson entered Queen's College, Oxford. In his second year, an Indian student called Satis Chandra Mookerjee joined the college. As a result of his praise of bhang, Dowson and his friends experimented with cannabis. Dowson remained in touch with Mookerjee; they were both part of a group of four who visited the Gaiety Theatre in March 1889 (see Dowson letter to Arthur Moore, 24 March 1889).

Dowson left Oxford in 1888 and it was in London, in September 1890, that Lionel Johnson introduced Dowson to the Primavera poet and former Oxford student Manmohan Ghose. From letters to various friends, it appears that Dowson became quite enamoured with Ghose, describing him variously as 'charming' and 'beautiful lotus-eyed'. His correspondence mentions Ghose until the middle of 1891 when Dowson was planning to bring out a book called 'The Book of the Rhymers Club' which he hoped would include Ghose's work. When the book did come out, Ghose's name was not among the contributors who included Lionel Johnson, T. W. Rolleston, Arthur Symons and W. B. Yeats.

Published works: 

(in collaboration with Arthur Moore) A Comedy of Masks (1893)

Dilemmas: Stories and Studies in Sentiment (1895)

Verses (1896)

The Pierrot of the Minute (1897)

Adrian Rome (in collaboration with Arthur Moore) (1899)

Decorations: In Verse and Prose (1899)


Letter to Charles Sayle, c.25 Nov. 1890, in Flower and Maas (eds), The Letters of Ernest Dowson (London: Cassel, 1967), p. 177

Date of birth: 
02 Aug 1867

Letter telling Charles Sayle what Dowson has been up to recently. This includes seeing a lot of the 'people in Fitzroy St' and especially Lionel Johnson.


Manmohan Ghose, Lionel Pigot Johnson, Satis Chandra Mookerjee (fellow student at Queen's College, Oxford, who was called to the Bar in 1891 and entered the ICS; he introduced Dowson and Thomas to bhang), Arthur Moore (nephew of Henry Moore), Victor Plarr, Ernest Rhys, William Rothenstein, Charles Sayle, Arthur Symons, W. R. Thomas, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats.

The Rhymers' Club

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Century Guild Hobby Horse

Macmillan's Magazine

The Savoy


Another charming person, of whom I am seeing much also, & whom doubtless you know is Ghose the Primavera poet: a divinely mad person!

Secondary works: 

Flower, Desmond and Maas, Henry (eds), The Letters of Ernest Dowson (London: Cassell & Co., 1967)

Plarr, Victor, Ernest Dowson, 1888–1897: Reminiscences, Unpublished Letters and Marginalia (London: E. Mathews, 1914)

Richards, Bernard, ‘Dowson, Ernest Christopher (1867–1900)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37369]

Thomas, W. R., 'Ernest Dowson at Oxford', The Nineteenth Century and After CIII.614 (April 1928), pp. 560-6


While it is not clear why Dowson describes Ghose as 'divinely mad', this letter reveals the frequent contact that Dowson was having with Ghose and the association between Ghose and the Fitzroy St group. The letter reveals a great deal of familiarity with Ghose on the part of Dowson and his friends.

Archive source: 

Correspondence with Arthur Moore, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York

City of birth: 
Lee, Kent
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
23 Feb 1900
Location of death: 

Woodford, Essex; Fleet Street, London (where the Rhymers' Club often met).

Tags for Making Britain: 

Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah


Ikbal Ali Shah was the Son of the Nawab of Sardhana, and great grandson of the Afghan statesman Jan Fishan Khan. He came to Britain before the First World War and studied at Oxford and Edinburgh University, where he met his wife, the Scottish author Morag Murray. They had three children, the Sufi writers and translators Amina Shah (1918), Omar Ali-Shah (1922-2005) and Idries Shah (1924-96), with whom Doris Lessing later studied Sufism. He wrote collections of tales and adventure, like The Golden Caravan, as well as non-fiction like The Spirit of the East. He later taught Sufi "classes" in England, which were the precursors to the Sufi school established by his son, Idries Shah. Ikbal Ali Shah also wrote biographies, including on President Kemal Attaturk whom he claims to have known personally.

Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah was a prolific writer of articles, and books relating to South Asia, Sufism and the Muslim World. He published in The Bookman and other journals, but struggled to live by his writing. In 1939 he contacted the India Office for work as a writer in the Information Department, for whom he wrote articles useful for Muslim papers in India and he provided the Ministry with a regular service of news along these lines. In a letter dated 19 January 1939, A. H. Joyce (Secretary Political, External Department) stated that the India Office had known Ikbal Ali Shah ‘as a contributor of articles, principally to the provincial newspapers in this country, on matters affecting the Muslim world and particularly those affecting India and Afghanistan. He is also the author of quite a number of books of a popular type covering a similar field’ (L/I/1/1509). He was also a prolific speaker and addressed the Oxford Majlis in 1941 on the topic ‘Incompatibility of Islamic and Fascist Philosophies’, and lascars in the East End on ‘English, Their Country and Their Ways’. He also wrote a paper ‘Little Arabia in Britain', on Cardiff’s Muslim community.

Ikbal Ali Shah was linked to the controversy surrounding the 1967 publication of a new translation of Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat, by his son Omar Ali-Shah and the English poet Robert Graves. The translation was based on an annotated "crib", supposedly derived from an old manuscript said to have been in the Shah family's possession for 800 years. L. P. Elwell-Sutton, an Orientalist at Edinburgh University, and others who reviewed the book, expressed their conviction that the story of the ancient family manuscript was false. Graves had been led to believe that Ikbal Ali Shah had access to the disputed manuscript. Shah was about to produce it at the time of his death from a car accident, to allay the growing controversy surrounding the translation. He and his wife are buried in the Muslim section of the cemetery at Brookwood, Woking, Surrey.

Published works: 

Afghanistan of the Afghans (1928)

Westward to Mecca (1928)

Eastward to Persia (1930)

The Golden East (1931)

Mohamed: The Prophet (1932)

Alone in Arabian Nights (1933)

Islamic Sufism (1933)

The Golden Pilgrimage (1933)

The Prince Aga Khan (1933)

Afridi Gold (1934)

Kemal: Maker of Modern Turkey (1934)

The Controlling Minds of Asia (1937)

(ed.) Coronation Book of Oriental Literature (1937)

(ed.) The Golden Treasury of Indian Literature (1938)

Nepal: Home of the Gods (1938)

Spirit of the East (1939)

Occultism: Its Theory and Practice (1952)

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1894

Robert Graves, Morag Murray.

Contributions to periodicals: 
Precise DOB unknown: 
Archive source: 

L/I/1/1509 Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


University of Edinburgh Edinburgh, EH8 9AD
United Kingdom
55° 57' 7.956" N, 3° 10' 19.4196" W
Oxford University Oxford, OX2 6QD
United Kingdom
51° 47' 13.6464" N, 1° 17' 24.6012" W
Date of death: 
04 Nov 1969
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1914
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Edinburgh, London, Oxford.

Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike


Solomon Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, the fourth prime minister of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), spent six years in England. He studied between 1919 and 1925 at Christ Church College, Oxford. During his time there, he lived with a working class family as a shortage of rooms in the College had forced Christ Church to find lodgings elsewhere. Bandaranaike was struck by the hierarchical structure and social conventions that excluded him from the student fraternity.

During his first year at Oxford, his father moved to London for a year together with his sister who was presented as a debutante at Buckingham Palace in 1920. Bandaranaike tried hard to fit in and found it difficult to deal with his fellow students’ rejection, especially considering his own family’s preoccupation with status and power. In 1920 he was allotted a room in Christ Church College, sharing a corridor with Anthony Eden. After passing his classics exams with a second class degree, he switched to law.

In his third year at Oxford he became actively involved in the Oxford Union, delivering speeches on democracy, policies on India, and the British government’s policies in Egypt. He established himself as a regular speaker at the Union and his performance was praised in the Oxford Magazine for its ‘vigorous thinking and his animated, insistent delivery’ (4 May 1922) . In June 1923, he became Secretary of the Oxford Union and in March 1924 was elected Junior Treasurer. His exposure to Indian Nationalism at Oxford had a profound impact on his world view. It led him to conclude that his father’s political support for the British and the feudal system in Ceylon were anachronistic.

Bandaranaike returned to Ceylon in 1925 and became actively involved in the island’s politics and independence movement. He was elected to the Colombo Municipal Council in 1926 and joined the United National Party. He was a member of the State Legislature from 1931 onwards. He became Ceylon’s fourth prime minister in 1956 and was assassinated in 1959.

Published works: 

Towards a New Era. Selected speeches of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike made in the Legislature of Ceylon, 1931 to 1959, ed.  by G. E. P. de S. Wickramaratne (Colombo: 1961)

The thoughts of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. A selection of significant quotations from his writings and speeches, ed. by M. A. de Silva (Nugegoda: Lotus Press, 1969)

Speeches on Labour (Sri Lanka : 1978)

Devolution in Sri Lanka : S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the debate on power sharing, ed. by K. M. De Silva (International Centre for Ethnic Studies, 1996)


S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, ‘Memories of Oxford’ in Speeches and Writings (Colombo, 1963), pp. 43-44

Date of birth: 
08 Jan 1899

Anthony Eden, M. K. Gandhi, Gerlad Gardiner, Edward Majoribanks, Jawaharlal Nehru.


My first task, therefore, was to kindle a real interest in the subject. I started by cracking a few jokes, making a few biting remarks at the expense of the opposition. Members began to sit up in their seats and take notice. Now that I held their attention, it was time to give them some more solid food. I proceeded to develop my argument. Soon the House hung breathless on my words; there was dead silence among the audience, which was too absorbed even to applaud. I was conscious of such power over my fellow-men as I had never known before. For a few moments I was master of the bodies and souls of the majority of my listeners. I unrolled the scroll of British history, tracing the trend of British political ideals, as they appeared to me, mounting steadily to the crest of my peroration, in which, with a lingering memory of Walter Pater, I compared the British love of freedom to the pictures of the Italian Renaissance ‘where you find a thread of golden light pervading the whole work; it is in the air, it dances in the eyes of men and women, it flickers in their hair, and is woven in the very texture of their flesh. And the thread of golden light which illumines for ever the life of this people is their love of freedom and free institutions…’. Not a sound was heard in that vast hall as I ceased, picked up my notes, and walked back to my seat. Then a storm of applause broke out, which refused to be quelled for many minutes.

Secondary works: 

Alles, A. C., The Assassination of a Prime Minister (New York : Vantage Press, 1986)

Manor, James, The Expedient Utopian: Bandaranaike and Ceylon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)

Oberst, R.C., ‘Bandaranaike, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias (1899–1959)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/30571]

Symonds, Richard, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? (New York: St Martin's Press, 1986)

Weeramantry, Lucian G., Assassination of a Prime Minister: the Bandaranaike Murder Case (Geneva: Studer S. A., 1969)


The above extract is Bandaranaike’s assessment of his rhetorical skills in a debate on the proposition ‘The indefinite continuance of British sovereignty in India is a violation of British political ideals’. It shows Bandaranaike’s awareness of his skills to manipulate an audience and to communicate effectively.  The connection between Walter Pater, Italian renaissance painting and the notion of freedom in the context of India’s right of self-determination seems particularly striking in this instance.

Archive source: 

S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike Papers, National Archives Sri Lanka, Colombo, Sri Lanka

City of birth: 
Horagolla, Veyangoda
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka


Christ Church College
Saint Aldate's
Oxford, OX1 1DP
United Kingdom
51° 44' 56.4252" N, 1° 15' 23.958" W
Date of death: 
25 Sep 1959
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Oct 1919
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

October 1919 - February 1925


Oxford, London.

Lotus Club


The Oxford Lotus Club was a student society that comprised of 50:50 Indians and English students.

Tags for Making Britain: 

Oxford Union


The Oxford Union is a student debating society that was established in 1823. As a forum for political (and non-political) debates, it has attracted a number of high-profile speakers and bred a number of international politicians.

Student members of the university could join the Oxford Union, and hence a number of South Asian students in the nineteenth and early twentieth century were members who attended the debates. Many of these debates related to Indian issues, including a debate during the First World War about the deployment of Indian troops. A number of South Asian students also tried (with varying degrees of success) to become a part of the Union Society committees, all of which were decided by election.

M. C. Chagla was elected to the Library Committee in 1921. In Michaelmas 1923, Solomon Bandaranaike was elected Secretary of the Union, and Treasurer in Trinity 1924. He stood for presidency of the Union but was defeated. Some believed that many old life-members turned out for this election specifically to defeat Bandaranaike. Humayun Kabir was elected to the Library Committee in 1929, was elected Secretary in 1930 and then Librarian in 1931. He was also unsuccessful in standing for President.

The first Indian President of the Oxford Union was D. F. Karaka. He was elected in November 1933 and so was President in the Hilary Term of 1934. He had been Secretary and Librarian previously. As Secretary of the Union in 1933, Karaka was present at the controversial debate: 'That this House will under no circumstances fight for its King and Country'. The motion was carried and Karaka's minute book was torn through this date. In the final debate under his presidency, Karaka launched a scathing attack upon the colour bar with particular reference to the Oxford Carlton Club.


Oxford Mail, 9 March 1934

Secondary works: 

Hollis, Christopher, The Oxford Union (London: Evans Bros., 1965)

Karaka, D. F., I Go West (London: Michael Joseph, 1938)

Karaka, D. F., The Pulse of Oxford (London: J.M. Dent, 1933)

Symonds, Richard, Oxford and Empire: The Last Lost Cause? (New York: St Martins Press, 1986)


A report on Karaka's last debate as President of the Oxford Union.

Date began: 
01 Jan 1823

Mr Karaka’s attack on his traducers, particularly his effective conge on the newspaper correspondent, who wrote: “Now that an Indian has been elected to the office of President of the Union, it no longer will be held in such high esteem”, brought a crowded house to his side at once.
“It was ungracious of that paper to make such a remark of any person before he had been tried in that office” was his quiet comment which evoked a torrent of cheers.

Archive source: 

Oxford Union Archives, Oxfordshire Record Office

Oxford Mail, 9 March 1934


United Kingdom
Tags for Making Britain: 


Subscribe to RSS - Oxford