The Wildgoose Chase

I met Chelsea Pensioner Walter Wildgoose in 1977 when he was 87 and I was 26. Through a series of letters written over the last year of his life, he passed along his life story - the workhouse children's home, a life in the British Army witnessing the opening battles of World War I and life in India, a remarkable family surviving the bombs of World War II London. This blog will document my research and progress on the novel I'm writing about this amazing man.

Monday, August 15, 2005

British Raj Resources

Constable's Hand Atlas of India, 1893

A list of solid, reliable internet resources for research on the British Army in India, late 19th century, is coming together. Many of the websites list scholarly works and/or additional online resource that should be helpful as I try to color in some of the details of how the John Wildgoose family lived while stationed in the Punjab.

Two articles by J.K. Buda look at the place and time through its literature. "The Literature of British India" (1985) gives historical background (through 1947, of course), including the "pecking order" of the British administration, army, and civil service. "Rudyard Kipling's 'The Battle of East and West'" (1985) looks as the controversy and misunderstandings surrounding the poem, as well as how the verse captures the atmosphere of the time. I'm not arguing one way or another about the modern sensibilities surrounding Kipling, but Buda's articles help me understand the place/time in which the Wildgoose family was living in the 1890's.

Patrick O'Meara's Indian Tales website is an account of his British military family's life in India during the 1920's-30's (maybe longer - haven't gotten to the end yet!). This will be particularly helpful as I flesh out Walter and May's time in India (from 1919-1930), but some of O'Meara's specifics about how military families lived in India connect the dots for an earlier era, as well.

As with any internet resource (or any resource, for that matter) everything must be taken with a grain of salt. Discerning the author's world-view and bias is, of course, necessary. But even the most biased article can give insight into the period of the British Raj. Other resources I've found interesting include The British Raj (A Remote Elite), Pashto Under the British Empire, Camera Indica (Photography as History and Memory in the 19th Century), and The British Empire, An Internet Gateway (good list of online resources). I have bookmarked many, many more resources that may or may not turn out to reveal the secrets of a regular army family living in India at the end of the 19th century. Stay tuned.

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posted by MaryB @ 11:58 AM  


  • At 2:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I was born in Poona in 1931 and now
    live in the United States. And as it
    turns out, Patrick O'Meara is my cousin! I was SO excited to read part
    of his recollections about life in India, but did not have time to get to the end. Imagine my disappointment when I could not access his Indian-tales website again. Do you
    have any idea how I might reach him, or access his recollections again?


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