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The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the…

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

by Anne de Courcy

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"In India they would be besieged by suitors...richer, with more prospects than anyone they could meet in England"
By sally tarbox on 3 September 2017
Format: Kindle Edition
An eminently readable account of the young unmarried women who went out to India in the days of the Raj to find a husband. Where men massively outnumbered women, this could be a much easier proposition than back home, where the reverse was true.
Using memoirs of some of those women, the author takes different aspects of this world in each chapter. The journey out - seasickness, sometimes romance - then the backgrounds of some of those women: some were daughters of colonials, going home after years in a British school. Others were sent out to friends in the hope of marrying them off.

Life in India could be great fun: endless parties, an exotic culture, tiger hunts, male attention, but was also far more conservative, snobbish and constrained than in Britain: "If I were asked what struck me as the chief concern of English social life in India, I should answer 'to seek Precedence and ensure it.'" noted one woman. With their own 'royalty' of the viceroy, the author observes the difference between Britain (where women and working-class men were getting into Parliament) and India, where a viceroy HAD to be a man of a certain background. Socializing with the fabulously wealthy local maharajahs took place - but these 'natives' were not permitted to join the all-White clubs. And Anglo-Indians - born of (formerly sanctioned) marriages between white men and local women, were a race apart, colonial children forbidden to mix with them.

The author looks too at the hardships these women took on: primitive housing, the heat, disease, earthquakes, skirmishes - and the sad knowledge that any children born would have to be sent to Britain for education - to attend school in India meant they were regarded as 'domiciled' and of a lower social status.
Although the ethos was always of putting up with things, I wondered if all the stories were so resolutely 'jolly hockey sticks' as the accounts given. Were there no wives who fled their husband and the privations? They seemed a uniformly tough lot!

With b/w photos this is a very interesting read. ( )
  starbox | Sep 3, 2017 |
If you enjoy a certain strain of British fiction, this provides some good history and background. Me, I got a little tired of all the privilege and focus on marriage.
  revliz | Jan 7, 2017 |
Wide ranging, informative and entertaining account of young ladies in search of a husband, during the time of the Raj: a veritable fishing fleet of tales. ( )
  DramMan | Jan 26, 2016 |
This book by the well-known biographer Anne de Courcy is an interesting by product of her much weightier book on the daughters of the Viceroy Lord Curzon. It's largely anecdotal and perhaps says nothing very new, but it's interesting to reflect on the individual stories of a generation of middle and upper class women whose lives were very different from those they might have had if they had stayed in Britain. Lots of original source material has been drawn upon, most of it admittedly from trhe latter days of the Raj in the first half of the 20th century but also some from the possibly more interesting 19th century.
  ponsonby | May 11, 2015 |
Memories, diaries and recollections of Raj women
  MarilynKinnon | Apr 29, 2015 |
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From the late 19th century, when the Raj was at its height, many of Britain's best and brightest young men went out to India to work as administrators, soldiers and businessmen. With the advent of steam travel and the opening of the Suez Canal, countless young women, suffering at the lack of eligible men in Britain, followed in their wake. This amorphous band was composed of daughters returning after their English education, girls invited to stay with married sisters or friends and yet others whose declared or undeclared goal was simply to find a husband. They were known as the Fishing Fleet and this book is their story, hitherto untold.… (more)

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