India Society

Paira Mall


Paira Mall (1874-1957) was of Indian descent.

An MD, Paira Mall worked as an agent for Sir Henry Wellcome and was sent to India in 1911 to collect materials for a museum of medical history. Mall was involved in the inception of the India Society in 1910.

In 1925, India Society membership records noted Paira Mall's address as c/o National Bank of India, 26 Bishopsgate, London, EC2.

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1874
Precise DOB unknown: 
Secondary works: 

Allan, Nigel, Pearls of the Orient: Asian Treasures from the Wellcome Library (London: The Wellcome Trust, 2003)

Larson, Frances, An Infinity of Things: How Sir Henry Wellcome Collected the World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Archive source: 

Photo and other material, Wellcome Library, London


National Bank of India
26 Bishopsgate
London, EC2M 4NJ
United Kingdom
51° 31' 22.7424" N, 0° 4' 38.5896" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1957
Precise date of death unknown: 
Tags for Making Britain: 

Eric Gill


Eric Gill was one of the most significant sculptors to work in Britain during the first half of the twentieth century. As well as being a talented stone carver, he was also a gifted draughtsman, letterer, typographer and printer. Rejecting the established techniques of making sculpture with the aid of the pointing machine, Gill is credited with re-establishing the practice of ‘direct carving’ in Britain and influencing the work of subsequent generations of sculptors, including Henry Moore.

Gill began to make sculpture in 1909, having trained in the offices of the architect W. D. Caroë and enrolled in evening classes in masonry at the Westminster Technical Institute and calligraphy at the Central School of Arts and Crafts. His first figural sculpture, Estin Thalassa (now lost), combined cut lettering, for which he had already become well known, and a naked, crouching woman. He showed photographs of this work to William Rothenstein and Roger Fry who became crucial supporters of his work. Whilst Rothenstein was travelling in India, Gill wrote to him telling him about his own exposure in Britain to images of Indian architecture and sculpture through a publication called Wonders of the World.

In 1908, Gill met Ananda Coomaraswamy at a lecture given by the latter at the Art Workers’ Guild in London. Through these acquaintances, Gill became interested in the art and culture of India and he joined the India Society in 1910 (as did fellow sculptor Jacob Epstein). Gill took a specific interest in the religious carving which adorned South Asian temples, heavily influenced by Coomaraswamy’s publications. In his Autobiography, Gill wrote of Coomaraswamy: ‘I dare not confess myself his disciple; that would only embarrass him. I can only say that I believe that no other living writer has written the truth in matters of art and life and religion and piety with such wisdom and understanding.’ Gill also wrote an introductory essay on ‘Art and Reality’ for Mulk Raj Anand’s The Hindu View of Art and contributed a full-page engraving to Anand’s The Lost Child, published in 1934.

Published works: 

‘Preface’, in Vivakarma: Examples of Indian Architecture, Sculpture, Painting, Handicraft, Chosen by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, First Series: One Hundred Examples of Indian Sculpture: With an Introduction by Eric Gill (London: Messrs. Luzac, 1914), pp. 3-7

Slavery and Freedom (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1917)

Sculpture (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1918)

Birth Control (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1919)

Dress (Ditchling: St Dominic’s Press, 1921)

Art and Love (Waltham St Lawrence: Golden Cockerel Press, 1928)

The Future of Sculpture (London: Lanston Monotype Corporation Ltd)

Art-Nonsense and Other Essays (London: Cassell & Co. and Francis Walterson, 1929)

Sculpture and the Living Model (London: Faber & Faber)

Art and a Changing Civilisation (London: John Lane – The Bodley, 1934)

The Necessity of Belief (London: Faber & Faber/Hague & Gill, 1936)

Work & Property (London: Dent & Sons/Hague & Gill, 1937)

Twenty-five Nudes (London: Dent & Sons/Hague & Gill, 1938)

Autobiography (London: Jonathan Cape, 1940)


Eric Gill to William Rothenstein, letter written whilst Rothenstein was travelling in India, 6 January 1911, Ms ENG 1148/596/36, William Rothenstein Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Date of birth: 
22 Feb 1882
Contributions to periodicals: 

The Listener (‘A Sign and a Symbol’, 15 March 1933, p. 397)

(under pseudonym E. Rowton) Westminster Cathedral Chronicle (‘The Stations of the Cross in the Cathedral’, March 1918, p. 52)


So we have been gaining some small notion of the sort of thing you are seeing… I agree with you in your suggestion that the best route to Heaven is via Elephanta, Ellora & Ajanta. They must be wonderful places indeed…Someday we will follow in your footsteps and go and see the real things.

Secondary works: 

Attwater, Donald, A Cell of Good Living: The Life, Works and Opinions of Eric Gill (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1969)

Attwater, Donald, Eric Gill: Workman (London: James Clarke & Co., 1941)

Collins, Judith, Eric Gill: Sculpture (London: Lund Humphries, in association with Barbican Art Gallery, 1992)

Collins, Judith, Eric Gill, the Sculpture: A Catalogue Raisonné (London: The Herbert Press, 1998)

Gill, E. R., Bibliography of Eric Gill (London: Cassell & Co. 1953)

Gill, E. R., The Inscriptional Work of Eric Gill: An Inventory (London: Cassell & Co. 1964)

Physick, J. F., The Engraved Works of Eric Gill (London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 1963)

Jones, David, Epoch and Artist (London: Faber & Faber, 1959)

MacCarthy, Fiona, Eric Gill (London: Faber & Faber, 1989)

Peace, David, Eric Gill: The Inscriptions (London: The Herbert Press, 1994)

Rothenstein, J. K. M., Eric Gill (London: Jonathan Cape, 1927)

Shewering, Walter (ed.), The Letters of Eric Gill (London: Jonathan Cape, 1947)

Skelton, Christopher, The Engravings of Eric Gill (Wellingborough: Skelton’s Press, 1983)

Speaight, Robert, The Life of Eric Gill (London: Methuen, 1966)

Thorpe, Joseph, Eric Gill (London: Jonathan Cape, 1929)

Yorke, Malcolm, Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit (London: Constable, 1981)

Archive source: 

Diaries and papers, NUC MS 77-1948, William Andrew Clark Memorial Library, University of California, Los Angeles

Correspondence, Add 73195 ff, Manuscript Collections, British Library, St Pancras

Letter and photographs, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Correspondence, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Papers, including artwork files, Chatto & Windus Archive, Reading University Library, Reading

Postcards and drawings, MSL/1977/5316; MSL1983/24/1-2; MSL/1957/3382; MSL/1977/5952; MSL/1964/3241, National Art Library, Victoria & Albert Museum

Correspondence and papers, University of San Francisco Library, San Franscisco

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Arthur Eric Rowton Gill

Date of death: 
17 Nov 1940

Brighton; Chichester; Ditchling, Sussex; Capel-y-ffin, Wales; Piggots, Buckinghamshire.

Ernest Binfield Havell


Havell was Principal of the Madras School of Industrial Arts from 1884 to 1892 and Principal of the Calcutta School of Art and Keeper of the Government Art Gallery from 1896 until 1906. In Calcutta, Havell worked with Abanindranath Tagore, nephew of Rabindranath Tagore, in developing a Bengal School of Art by reforming the art education at the Calcutta School of Art to gain inspiration from Mughal art rather than western methods.

In February 1910, Havell gave a lecture in London to the Royal Society of Arts on Indian Art, to which the Chair, George Birdwood, responded that India had no fine art tradition. Partly as a response to this, Havell was instrumental in founding the India Society - he convened a meeting at his house in March 1910 where the idea of the Society was concretized. The India Society was formed to bring attention to Indian Art in Britain and the West. The Society organized lectures, exhibitions and produced publications on Indian Art, including Havell's 1920 publication of a Handbook of Indian Art.

Havell was also appointed to the Indian Section Committee of the Festival of Empire held at Crystal Palace in 1911. From 1916 to 1923 Havell was a member of the British legation in Copenhagen. He died on 30 December 1934 at the Acland Nursing Home, Oxford.

Published works: 

The Industrial Development of India: Lecture (Calcutta: The Englishman, 1901) 

A Handbook to the Agra and the Taj, Sikandra, Fatehpur-Sikri and the Neighbourhood (London: Longmans & Co., 1904) 

Hand-Loom Weaving in India (Calcutta: Luxmir Bhandar, 1905)

Benares, The Sacred City:Sketches of Hindu Life and Religion (London: Blackie & Son, 1905)

Monograph on Stone-Carving in Bengal (Calcutta: Bengal Secretariat Book Depot, 1906)

Indian Sculpture and Painting Illustrated by Typical Masterpieces, with an Explanation of their Motives and Ideals (London: John Murray, 1908)

Essays on Indian Art, Industry & Education (Madras: G. A. Natesan & Co., 1910)

The Ideals of Indian Art (London: John Murray, 1911)

Eleven Plates Representing Works of Indian Sculpture (London: The India Society, 1911)

The Basis for Artistic and Industrial Revival in India (Adyar, Madras: Theosophist Office, 1912)

Indian Architecture, its Psychology, Structure, and History from the First Muhammadan Invasion to the Present Day (London: John Murray, 1913)

The Ancient and Medieval Architecture of India: A Study of Indo-Aryan Civilisation (London: J. Murray, 1915)

The History of Aryan Rule in India from the Earliest Times to the Death of Akbar (London: G. G. Harrap & Co., 1918)

A Handbook of Indian Art (London: John Murray, 1920)

The Himalayas in Indian Art (London: John Murray, 1924)

A Short History of India from the Earliest Times to the Present Day (London: Macmillan, 1924)

The Art Heritage of India, Comprising 'Indian Sculpture and Painting' and 'Ideals of Indian Art' (Bombay: D. B. Taraporevala Sons & Co., 1964)

Indian Architecture Through the Ages (New Delhi: Asian Publication Services, 1978)

Date of birth: 
16 Sep 1861
Contributions to periodicals: 

Asiatic Review

Modern Review

The Studio

Secondary works: 

Calendars of the Grants of Probate…Made in…HM Court of Probate [England and Wales] (1935)

Coomaraswamy, Ananda K., Golubev, Vicktor, Havell, Ernest Binfield and Rodin, Francois Auguste, Sculptures Civaites. Par Auguste Rodin, Ananda Coomaraswamy, E.-B. Havell Et Victor Goloubew [Ars Asiatica. No. 3.] (Bruxelles & Paris, 1921)

Jamal, O., 'E. B. Havell: The Art and Politics of Indianness', Third Text 39 (1997), pp. 3-19  

Mitter, Partha, Art and Nationalism in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994)

Mitter, Partha, 'Havell, Ernest Binfield (1861-1934)', rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Mitter, Partha, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977)

Mitter, Partha, The Triumph of Modernism: India's Artists and the Avant-Garde 1922-1947 (London: Reaktion, 2007)

Tarapor, Mahrukh Keki, ‘Art Education in Imperial India: the Indian Schools of Art’, in Kenneth Ballhatchet and David Taylor (eds) Changing South Asia (London: SOAS, 1984)

The Times (1 January 1935)

Who Was Who (1929-40)

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Ms Eur. D. 736, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Correspondence from Havell to William Rothenstein, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
30 Dec 1934
Location of death: 
Tags for Making Britain: 

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy


Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy was the son of Sir Mutu Coomaraswamy, from Ceylon, and his wife Elizabeth Clay Beeby, from Kent. Coomaraswamy joined Wycliffe College in Gloucestershire in 1889 and then studied Botany at University College London, graduating in 1900. He married Ethel Mary Partridge in 1902 and worked for the Minerological Survey in Ceylon, 1903-6.

In 1910, Coomaraswamy was involved in the formation of the India Society in London - a society dedicated to promoting Indian art. He wrote a number of pamphlets on Indian art and in 1917 took up a position as Research Fellow in Indian, Persian and Muhammadan Art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

In 1912, he divorced his first wife. His second wife was Alice Richardson, a performer of Indian music. His third wife was the American artist Stella Bloch, but this marriage was short-lived.

Published works: 

The Deeper Meaning of the Struggle (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1907)

The Aims of Indian Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908)

The Influence of Greek on Indian Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908)

Medieval Sinhalese Art (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1908)

The Indian Craftsman (London: Probsthain & Co., 1909)

The Oriental View of Women (Broad Campden: Essex House Press, 1909)

Indian Drawings (London: India Society, 1912)

(with M. E. Noble) Myths of the Hindus and Buddhists (London: George Harrap, 1913)

Buddha and the Gospel of Buddhism (London: Harrap, 1916)

Dance of Siva (New York: Simpkin, Marshall, 1924)

Figures of Speech or Figures of Thought (London: Luzac, 1946)

The Bugbear of Literacy (London: Dennis Dobson, 1949)

Date of birth: 
22 Aug 1877

Laurence Binyon, Stella Bloch (third wife), Walter Crane, Eric Gill, E. B. Havell, Christiana Herringham (India Society), Ethel Mary Mairet (first wife), Margaret Noble, A. R. Orage, Alice Richardson (second wife), T. W. Rolleston (India Society), William Rothenstein, M. J. Tambimuttu (nephew).

Contributions to periodicals: 

Burlington Magazine

Indian Art and Letters



Isis 2.2, September 1919

Indian Magazine and Review 481, January 1911

Secondary works: 

Seaman, G. R., 'Coomaraswamy, Ananda Kentish (1877-1947)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Coatts, Margot, ‘Mairet , Ethel Mary (1872–1952)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2007) []

Lipsey, Roger, Coomaraswamy, 3 vols (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977)

Livingston, Ray, The Traditional Theory of Literature (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1962)

Mitter, Partha, Much Maligned Monsters: History of European Reactions to Indian Art (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977)

Archive source: 

Letters and notebooks, Cambridge University Library, Cambridge

Correspondence and papers, Princeton University Library, New Jersey

India Society Archives, Mss Eur F147, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Stella Bloch Archive, Ms Thr 460, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Boston

Stella Bloch Papers, CO822, Princeton University Library, Princeton, New Jersey

Papers and photos, William Morris Hunt Memorial Library, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


Involved in events: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka
Other names: 


Date of death: 
09 Sep 1947
Location of death: 
Needham, Massachusetts, USA
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1879
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Tags for Making Britain: 

Laurence Binyon


Laurence Binyon was a poet, critic, artist, dramatist and curator. He worked in the British Museum from 1892 till his retirement in 1933 and was instrumental in promoting Asian Art in the Museum. He was introduced to Indian literature and philosophy by the poet Manmohan Ghose. They met as schoolboys at St Paul's School, in a seventh form English class when Ghose quoted Othello in class. They became fast friends, bonding over their love for poety and Classics and admiration of Matthew Arnold. Binyon followed Ghose to Oxford in 1888 (Ghose had joined in 1887) and they were involved in producing a short selection of poems under the title of Primavera in 1890, which was among others, reviewed favourably by Oscar Wilde in the Pall Mall Gazette.

In 1910, Binyon became involved with the India Society in London, designed to promote Indian Fine Art. Binyon became friends with the art-historian Ananda Coomaraswamy, who introduced him to Rajput paintings. In June 1912, Binyon met Rabindranath Tagore at William Rothenstein's house and held an admiration for Tagore that lasted until his death. Binyon had been introduced to the work of Tagore by Manmohan Ghose who had returned to India in 1894 but maintained a correspondence for some years - providing inspiration for Binyon's poem 'Asoka' or 'The Indian Prince' in 1900. When Ghose died in 1924, his daughter, Lotika, came to England to meet Binyon and show him her father's manuscripts. This inspired Binyon to write an introductory memoir for an edition of Ghose's poems that was published in 1926 under the title Songs of Love and Death.

Shortly before the Armistice, in November 1918, Binyon met Kedar Nath Das Gupta in London. Das Gupta, a friend of Tagore's, was organizer of the Union of the East and West. He had prepared a rough translation of Sakuntala, which he wished to put on the stage; Binyon agreed to rewrite Kalidasa's play for the stage, and two performances were put on in November 1919, produced by Lewis Casson and starring Sybil Thorndike. In 1920, Binyon gave the inaugural address for the Indian Students' Union and Hostel opened in Gower Street. Another connection to India was realized through Binyon's introduction to the Indian artist, Mukul Dey's My Pilgrimages to Ajanta and Bagh (London: Thornton & Butterworth, 1925). Binyon did not manage to visit India in his lifetime, despite the desires he expressed to the Oxford Majlis society in 1929. Upon his death in 1943, the Oxford Majlis passed a resolution in honour of Binyon as a 'lifelong friend' of India.

Published works: 

(with Stephen Phillips, Manmohan Ghose and Arthur Cripps) Primavera: Poems by Four Authors (Oxford: Blackwells, 1890)

(with Kedar Nath Das Gupta) Sakuntala (London: Macmillan & Co., 1920)

See Manmohan Ghose, Collected Poems. Volume I: Early Poems and Letters, edited by Lotika Ghose (University of Calcutta, 1970) for an introductory memoir by Laurence Binyon and a pencil sketch of Ghose aged 23 by Binyon



From Introductory Memoir to Manmohan Ghose, Collected Poems. Volume 1 (1970), pp. xv-xvi.

Date of birth: 
10 Aug 1869

Laurence Binyon remembering Manmohan Ghose.


Atul ChatterjeeHarindranath Chattopadhyaya, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Arthur Cripps (poet-missionary, contributor to Primavera), Kedar Nath Das Gupta, Mukul Dey, Manmohan Ghose, John Masefield, Henry Newbolt, Stephen Phillips (cousin, contributer to Primavera), Ezra PoundWilliam RothensteinRabindranath Tagore, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Indian Art and Letters

Monthly Review

Saturday Review


Circumstances had prevented him from being like Rabindra Nath Tagore, an interpreter of the West to India. He admired the Bengali language, but it seemed to him lacking in a certain quality which he found in English. No Indian had ever before used our tongue with so poetic a touch, and he would coin a phrase, turn a noun into a verb with the freedom, often the felicity of our own poets. But he remains Indian. I do not think that an Indian reader would feel him as a foreign poet, for all his western tastes and allusions. Yet to use he is a voice among the great company of English singers; somewhat apart and solitary, with a difference in his note, but not an echo.

Secondary works: 

Hatcher, John, Laurence Binyon: Poet, Scholar of East and West (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995)

Gandhi, Leela, Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought and the Politics of Friendship (New Delhi: Permanent Black, 2006)


The friendship between Laurence Binyon and Manmohan Ghose that began at St Paul's School, was a huge influence on both individuals. Ghose introduced Indian thought and philosophy to Binyon. Laurence Binyon was interested in the 'nationality' of Ghose's verse. Binyon believed that Ghose's English verse suffered when he returned to India as he no longer had the 'nourishment' of English surroundings, but also that Ghose was an Indian poet at heart despite his Western upbringing.

Archive source: 

Letters to Binyon (including one from Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, and letters from Manmohan Ghose), and a few letters from Laurence Binyon to various correspondents and other unpublished manuscripts, Loan Collection 103, Manuscript Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letters from Binyon to William Rothenstein, Mss Eur B213, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

Performances of 'Sakuntala', Winter Garden Theatre, November 1919.

Inauguration of Indian Students' Union and Hostel, Gower Street, 1920.


City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Robert Laurence Binyon

Date of death: 
10 Mar 1943
Location of death: 
Reading, England


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