Wednesday, the 1st of July, and time for Shelf Control once again! Shelf Control is a weekly feature hosted by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies, and celebrates the books waiting to be read on your TBR piles/mountains. To participate, all you do is pick a book from your TBR pile, and write a post about it–what its about, why you want to read it, where you got it and such. If you participate, link back to Lisa’s page, and do also leave your links in the comments below as I’d love to check out your picks as well!

My pick this week is a collection of sketches, travel writing even perhaps, Wanderings in India and Other Sketches of Life in Hindostan by John Lang. John Lang was born in Australia in 1816, and was a novelist, newspaper editor and barrister. He travelled to India in 1842 or possibly 1843, and established a newspaper at Meerut in 1845. In the paper, the Mofussilite, and in Fraser’s Magazine, he wrote a number of novels that appeared in serial. And he also wrote a series of sketches contributed to Household Words about life in different parts of India to which he travelled. He is best known for having defended the Rani of Jhansi against the British East India Company. Having spent a large part of his life in the country, he died in Mussoorie in 1864. His grave, lost for a long time, was rediscovered by another well-known author, Ruskin Bond.

This collection that I’ve picked this week is of his sketches, first published in 1859 as a collection and then also reprinted more recently. He covers a number of places including Lucknow, Calcutta, Meerut and Mussoorie, and subjects ranging from the general like ‘The Indian Society’, ‘Marching’, and the ‘Himalayas’ to portraits of ‘The Mahommedan Mother’, ‘The Ranee of Jhansi’ and ‘Tantia Topee’. The book seems like it will give an interesting look into life and times in colonial India, and that too through the eyes of a person who not only lived here but was closely involved with matters of the state as well.

Once again, this is a book I have in e-form, downloaded from Project Gutenberg.

I don’t pick up non-fiction reads as often as I do fiction (despite enjoying them as much, and wanting to certainly read more) and so even the other travel book on India (Modern India by William Eleroy Curtis, an American journalist writing much later than Lang, in 1903-04) which I’d featured on Shelf Control earlier (here) still is waiting on my TBR. But I intend to read both–perhaps one after the other to see the differences that time, and the observers being from different parts of the world have made to their observations; also the fact that Lang lived in India while Curtis was simply a traveller.

Do you enjoy reading travel writings about your part of the world? Do you prefer old ones or more contemporary or both? Any favourites? Looking forward to your thoughts and recommendations!

Cover image: as always from Goodreads; info on the book from Goodreads (here and here), and on the author from Goodreads (here) and Wikipedia (here)

2 thoughts on “Shelf Control #97: Wanderings in India by John Lang #History #Travel #TBR

  1. Imagine travelling from Australia to India in the early 1800s! Wonder how long that took. Wish I had known that he was buried in Mussoorie. I remember the old cemetary on Camel’s Back road. Would have looked for his grave. I do enjoy travel books, and especially the old ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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