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April 24 , 2009

Begums, Thugs and White Mughals

The Journals of Fanny Parkes


Fanny Parkes lived in India between 1822 and 1846 and was the ideal travel writer – courageous, indefatigably curious and determinedly independent. Her journals trace her transformation from prim memsahib to eccentric, sitar-playing Indophile, fluent in Urdu, critical of British rule and passionate in her appreciation of Indian culture. Fanny is fascinated by the trial of thugs, the adorning of a Hindu bride and swears by the efficacy of opium on headaches. To read her is to get as close as one can to a true picture of early colonial India – the sacred and the profane, the violent and the beautiful, the straight-laced sahibs and the ‘White Mughals’ who fell in love with India, married Indian wives and built bridges between the two cultures.

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