Eric Blair is standing third from the left

Orwell and his parents were culturally Anglo-Indians. He was born in India and served for five years in Burma as an Assistant District Superintendent in the Indian Imperial Police. The centrality of the sub-continent to Orwell’s cultural, professional and imaginative identity can be observed throughout his life and work.

He published Burmese Days in 1934.

In 1938, his plans to return to Lucknow, in India, to work on a newspaper did not reach fruition. He had two ‘wasted’ years at the BBC at the beginning of World War Two, broadcasting propaganda to India.

The dust jacket of Orwell’s 1941 book, The Lion and the Unicorn, emphasises that the author was born into an “Anglo-Indian family”.

During the last years of his life, Orwell continued to look towards “The East”. Recently discovered letters, written to David Astor in 1945, reveal Orwell’s desire to return to Burma as a war correspondent in order to report on the closing stages of the military campaign and to interview Burmese political leaders on the eve of independence from Britain.

Orwell, in the year prior to his death, returned to the Anglo-Indian world of his youth and was  working on what would be an unfinished literary project, set in Burma and titled, A Smoking-Room Story.

Douglas Kerr’s new book, Orwell and Empire, is essential reading on this topic.

I travelled to India for 6 weeks in late 2023 to learn more about Orwell’s Anglo-Indian heritage. I had a quixotic goal of trying to identify Orwell’s Ayah and but mostly wanted to talk with local people in Motihari and Nainital. Time spent in the State Archives of Bihar (Patna) and West Bengal (Kolkata), as well as the National Archives in Delhi was fruitful.

On the 14th July 2024 I will give an online George Talk for The Orwell Society about my discoveries titled, “Orwell & India”!

India & Burma Collection

Anand, Mulk Raj, Untouchable, London: Penguin, 1940 (first paperback edition)

Anand, Mulk Raj, Kama Kala (some notes on the philosophical basis of Hindu erotic sculpture), Geneva: Les Editions Nagel, 1958. 106pp.

Archaeological Survey of India, The Residency – Lucknow, Archaeological Survey of India, 2003. 112pp.

Atkinson, Edwin T, Himalayan Gazetteer: Volumes 1-3, (Second Edition), New Delhi: Natraj Publishers, 2014. 2631pp.

Bauer, Rolf, The Peasant Production of Opium in Nineteenth-Century India, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2019. 236pp.

Beveridge, Lord, India Called Them, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1947. 418pp

Bhargava, Ranjit, Sarey Ray Chalte Chatte… (An Autobiography by Ranjit Bhargava), S.Ahmad’s Publication Private Limited, 2021. 134pp. (kindly gifted and inscribed by the author in his home on Diwali in 2023).

Blurton, T. Richard, India: A History in Objects, Thames & Hudson, 2017. 320pp.

Bourne, Samuel, Rayner, Hugh (ed), Photographic Journeys in the Himalayas 1863-1866, Bath: Pagoda Tree Press, 238pp.

Burton, David, The Raj at the Table: A Culinary History of the British in India, London: Faber & Faber, 1994. 240pp.

Bremmer, Fred, My Forty Years in India (second edition), Bath: Pagoda Tree Press, 2007, 70pp.

Broomhall, Benjamin, The Truth About Opium Smoking, (1882/2012). 116pp.

Carr, Ray, The Red Tiger, London: Skeffington & Sons Ltd. 1929. 288pp. (Ray Carr was the pseudonym for Emile Charles Victor Foucar [1894-1963] who wrote I Lived in Burma)

Carr, Ray, Moonshine, London: Gerald Howe, 1932. 287pp. (first edition)

Carr, Ray, Moonshine, Bournemouth: William Earl & Company, Ltd., 1937. 126pp.

Chaman, P.H., A Short History of the Church of St. John-in-the-Wilderness – Naini Tal (1844-1993), ND. No Publisher. (gifted by Pastor Mark Walsh)

Clerici, M.C. and Walker, G.E.D., Duties and Diversions: Vignettes of Policing in the United Provinces & Elsewhere in India, Indian Police (UK) Association 1987, 77pp.

Collis Maurice (1953) Into Hidden Burma: an Autobiography, London: Faber and Faber (First Edition)

Collis, Maurice, Trials in Burma, Faber and Faber, 2011. 224pp.

Cook, Thomas (Staff), India, Burma, and Ceylon: Information for Travellers and Residents, London: Thos. Cook & Son Ltd, 1928

Corbett, Jim, My India, Sanage Publishing: Kindle Edition, 2023. 177pp.

Curry, J.C., The Indian Police, London: Faber & Faber, 1932, 353pp.

Craig, Hazel Inness, Under the Old School Topee, Self-published, 1996. 286pp.

De, Sarmistha, Marginal Europeans in Colonial India: 1860-1920, Kolkata: Thema Books, 2009. 316pp.

Etchart, Julio, Imagining Orwell from Katha to Catalonia, Blurb, 2017. 80pp.

Etchart, Julio, Imagining Orwell in Three Continents, Dorset: Just Press, 2020. 76pp.

Falconer, John, India: Pioneering Photographers 1850-1900, London: British Library, 2001. 144pp.

Falconer, John, Gordon, Sophie, Khan, Omar, Reverie and Reality: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of India from the Ehrenfeld Collection, San Francisco: Antique Collectors Club Ltd., 2003. 192pp.

Foucar, E.C.V., They Reigned in Mandalay, London: Dennis Dobson, 1946. 165pp.

Foucar, E.C.V., Mandalay The Golden, London: Dennis Dobson, 1963. 240pp.

Gaskell, Nathaniel and Gujral, Diva, Photography in India: A Visual History from the 1850s to the Present, 2019. 304pp.

Ghosh, Amitav, Smoke And Ashes: A Writer’s Journey through Opium’s Hidden Histories, India: HarperCollins, 2023. 400pp.

Gilmour, David, The Ruling Caste Imperial: Lives in the Victorian Raj, Pimlico, 2007. 432pp.

Griffiths, Percival, To Guard My People: The History of the Indian Police, London: Ernest Benn, 1972 (second corrected impression), 444pp.

griffiths, percival

Hart-Davis, Duff, Hero of Kumaon: The Life of Jim Corbett, Merlin Unwin Books: Kindle Edition, 2021. 271pp.

Hershkowitz, Robert, The British Photographer Abroad: The First Thirty Years, Hershkowitz, 1980. 95pp.

Hodge, John Zimmerman; Hicks, George E., Caste or Christ? Sketches of Indian Life, London: Morgan and Scott, 1906. 127pp.

Jack, Ian, Mofussil Junction: Indian Encounters 1977-2011, London: Viking, 2013. 352pp.

Jain, Jyotindra; Kumar Kg, Pramod & Sasidharan, Deepthi, Raja Deen Dayal: The Studio Archives from the Ignca Collection, Delhi: Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, 2010. 82pp.

ကသာခရိုင်အသင်း(ရန်ကုန်) မဂ္ဂဇင်းဖြစ်မြောက်ရေးကော်မတီမှစီစဉ်သည်။ ” ကသာခရိုင်အသင်း(ရန်ကုန်) မဂ္ဂဇင်း ” ၂၀၂၀ ပြည့် မတ်လတွင် ပထမအကြိမ် ထုတ်ဝေသည်။ Katha District Association (Yangon) Magazine, First Edition March 2020 (includes my article, ‘Eric Blair in Katha’). Thanks to Rina Crick for her kindness in sending this from Myanmar.

Kala, D.C., Jim Corbett of Kumaon, Penguin Books: Kindle Edition, 2009. 177pp.

Kaye; John William; Taylor, Meadows; Watson, John Forbes, The People of India: A Series of Photographic Illustrations, Creative Media Partners, LLC, 2022. 224pp.

Kerr, Douglas, Orwell and Empire, Oxford University Press, 2022. 240pp. (kindly inscribed by the author)

Khan, Abdullah, A Man from Motihari, Penguin Random House India Pvt. Ltd., 2023. 304pp. (kindly inscribed by the author)

Khan, Omar, Paper Jewels: Postcards from the Raj, Mapin, 2018. 240pp.

Langham-Carter, R.R., Old Moulmein 875-1880, Moulmein: The Moulmein Sun Press, 1947. 96pp. (Thanks to Rina Crick for her kindness in finding this ‘unprocurable book’ and sending it from Myanmar)

Larkin, Emma, Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop, John Murray, 2004. 232pp.

Larkin, Emma, Finding George Orwell in Burma, Granta, 2011. 304pp.

Lee, James S., Underworld of the East, London: Green Magic, 2000, 170pp.

Mason, Philip, The Men Who Ruled India, London: Jonathan Cape, 1985.

Mason, Philip,  A Shaft of Sunlight: Memories of a Varied Life, London: HarperCollins, 1978.

Mason, Philip, A Matter of Honour: An account of the Indian Army, Its Officers and Men, London: MacMillan, 1986

Maugham, W. Somerset, The Gentleman in the Parlour, Avon, 1947. (Originally published in 1929 this is the first paperback edition of the author’s journey from Rangoon to Haiphong)

Meyers, Jeffrey, “New Light on Burma”, The London Magazine, October-November 2021, pp. 108-117.

Midwood, Jimmy (ed), Chinthe Tales: Reminiscences by Members of the Burmah Oil Society, 1994. 184pp. (Published by the Burmah Oil Society for members)

Museum of Sydney, Encountering India: Colonial Photography 1850-1911, Sydney: Historic Houses Trust of N.S.W., 1997. 83pp.

Murray, John (ed.), A Handbook For Travellers In India, Burma and Ceylon, Including All British India, The Portuguese And French Possessions, And The Indian States, London: John Murray, 1924

Mutiah, S. and Maclure, Harry, The Anglo-Indians: A 500-Year History, Niyogi Books, (Kindle Edition), 2021. 228pp.

Nevill, H.R., Nainital: A Gazetteer, Dehradun: Samaya Sakshaya Prakashan. 2023. 376pp.

O’Brien, Barry, The Anglo-Indians: A Portrait of a Community, Kolkata: Aleph Book Company, 2022. 555pp.

Oi, Yasuo, Birumano Eguzairu (Exile of Burma), Tokyo: Kindai Bung-eisha, 1996 (Japanese)

Orwell, George, Burmese Days, New York: Harper and Brothers, 1934

Orwell, George, Burmese Days, London: Victor Gollancz, 1935

Osborne, Henry, Diaries of Henry Osborne, Sub-Deputy Opium Agent for the Opium Department, India Office, of the British Government in Bengal Province, India, 1876-1905, Lett’s Diaries Company, Ltd

Pande, Badri Dutt, History of Kumaun: Volume I, Almora: Almora Book Depot, 1993. 345pp. (translated by C. M. Agrawal)

Pande, Badri Dutt, History of Kumaun: Volume II, Almora: Almora Book Depot, 1993. 747pp. (translated by C. M. Agrawal)

Paget-Tomlinson, E.W., The History of the Bibby Line, Liverpool: Bibby Line Limited, , 1969. 78pp.

Pilgrim, Wanderings in the Himmala, Gyanodaya Prakashan, 1990. 222pp.

The Police JournalVolume 1 Issue 2, October 1928

The Police JournalVolume 2 Issue 4, October 1929

Prasada, Janhavi, Tales of Young Gandhi, HarperCollins, 2019. 224pp. (kindly inscribed by the author in Nainital)

Ravi, Anjali Bhartari, Walking with Corbett: A Walkaholic’s Guide to Jim Corbett’s Built Heritage in Kaladhungi & Nainital, M/s Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, 2019. 48pp.

Rawat, Dr Ajay Singh, Glimpses of Cultural History Devbhumi Uttarakhand: Stone Age to 1949, Haldwani (Nainital) Ankit Prakashan, 2022 (kindly inscribed by the author)

Rayner, Hugh (ed), Naini Tal and the Kumaun Lakes: An Anthology of 3 Early Guide Books, Bath: Pagoda Tree Press, 2010. 172pp.

Riddick, John F., Glimpses of India: An Annotated Bibliography of Published Personal Writings by Englishmen, 1583-1947, New York: Greenwood Press, 1989. 195pp.

Riddick, John F., Who Was Who in British India, New York: Greenwood Press, 1998. 445pp.

Robinson, Captain H.R., A Modern De Quincey: An Autobiography, George G. Harrap and Co, 1942. 150pp. First Edition (signed copy in good dust jacket)

Saché, John, Rayner, Hugh (ed), A Photographer in British India 1864-1882, Bath: Pagoda Tree Press, 2012. 37pp.

Sahni, Parikshat, The Non-Conformist: Memories of My Father Balraj Sahni, Penguin, 2019. 365pp.

Shah, Akshay; Alter, Stephen (eds), Corbett Papers,:The Biographical, Legal, & Contextual Material on the Life & Career of Jim Corbett of Kumaon, Black Kite, 2022. 264pp.

Shah, Giri Raj, Nainital: The Land of Trumpet and Song, Kindle Edition, 2011. 250pp.

Singh, N.K., Jim Corbett: Portrait of an Artist, Classical Pub. Co., 1991. 160pp.

Simmons, Stephen, Maymyo Days : Forgotten Lives of a Burma Hill Station, Thailand: River Books, 2023. 200pp.

South African Air Force Golden Jubilee Souvenir Book, Per Aspera Ad Astra 1920-1970,  Johannesburg: Keartland Press, 1970. 144pp.

Tibes, Ken van, Spirits and Wonders: Following Orwell in Burma, Books on Demand, 2018. 296pp.

Thompson, Edward, Burmese Silver, Paris: The Albatross, 1947. 245pp.

Rittinaphakorn, Thweep, Unseen Burma: Early Photography 1862-1962, River Books, 2023. 240pp.

Vicar, Edward C., Birthday Honours, London: Selwyn & Blount, 1938. 288pp.

Vicar, Edward C., Illegal Tender, London: Selwyn & Blount, 1936. 287pp.