‘She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: 17th and 18th Century British Women in India’ - a talk by Katie Hickman

Join bestselling author Katie Hickman for a fascinating talk on ‘She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: 17th and 18th Century British Women in India.’

Enjoy light refreshments at The Bharvan in West Kensington, London from 3.30pm – 5.30pm on Monday 17 June 2024.

Places are strictly limited. To reserve your free place, please confirm attendance by emailing emma@jonbainestours.co.uk by 9 June  2024. *Ex-London and international clients, please contact us for a recording of the event.*

Katie is leading A Cruise Through History Along the Hooghly: Travellers, Traders and Truth Seekers in India from 6 – 17 January 2025.

'She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: British Women in India 1600 - 1900' by Katie Hickman was the Spectator Book of the Year and The New Statesman Book of the Year.

The first British women set foot in India in the early seventeenth century, over two hundred years before the Raj came into being. In stark contrast to the languid ladies of popular imagination, these women were tough adventurers, making extraordinary leaps into the unknown. Those who dared the nineteen-month sea voyage, often confined to the lowest bowels of the ship, were at risk of hurricanes, shipwreck and piracy. For some it was a painful exile - it could take more than three years to receive and reply to letters from home - but for others it was an exhilarating opportunity to re-invent themselves.

While it is well-known that women went to India to find husbands, what is almost unknown is that they also worked as traders, cloth merchants, milliners, bakers, dress-makers, actresses, portrait painters, maids, shop-keepers, governesses, teachers, boarding house proprietors, midwives, nurses, missionaries, doctors, geologists, plant-collectors, writers and travellers - many succeeding in building independent lives.

British Imperialism has cast a long shadow; 'memsahibs', once a title of respect, is now more likely to be a byword for snobbery and racism. And it is true: prejudice of every kind - racial, social, imperial, religious - did cloud much of British involvement in India. But it was not invariably the case.

Katie Hickman, author of the bestselling Courtesans and Daughters of Britannia, draws on diaries, letters and memoirs (many still in manuscript form), and rewards us with this exciting and bracingly new landmark history.

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