Independent Women: Travel to Colonial India in the 19th Century-A Study of Travel Writing, Colonialism, and Female Authority Open Access

Lal, Tanvi (2016)

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Throughout the late Georgian to early Victorian time periods, women in Britain faced excessive restrictions on their social, personal, and professional lives. Their personal development was limited by these restrictions and the exposure a limited circle of people provided. These people were determined by their fathers or husbands and hence pigeonholed women further into societal expectations. What were the ways in which women could bypass these restrictions and develop themselves beyond societal expectations? With the growth of the British colonial system, travel opened up as a possibility. The East India Company, specifically, needed civil servants in order to expand and women often travelled with their husbands, fathers, or brothers on this colonial mission. This thesis will analyze the travel writings of three such women, Fanny Parkes, Isabella Fane, and Emily Eden, to argue that travelling to India at this time period led to forms of personal development unavailable to these women in Britain. In addition, this thesis will track the change in British colonial attitudes towards India from the 1820s to the 1830s by analyzing these women's representations of India. By doing so, this thesis argues that the broad change in British colonial thought that took place from 1820-1840 is reflected in these narratives.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1-Appreciating India and Describing the Zenana: Fanny Parkes and Wanderings of a Pilgrim

-Parkes's Representation of India and the Indian Population

-Parkes's Representation of Women and Her Experiences in the Zenana

-Parkes and 'Going Native'

Chapter 2-Exoticising Asian Men: Isabella Fane and Miss Fane in India

-Fane's Representation of India and the Indian Population

-Fane's Position as a Woman in India

Chapter 3-Imperialism and Power: Emily Eden and Up the Country

-Eden's Representation of India and the Indian Population

-Eden's Role as a Colonial Advocate

-Changes in Eden as a Result of Travelling in India



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