English Literature’s Chennai connections

In this article titled Inspiration from Madras (published in The Hindu sometime in 2003), Randor Guy talks about famous English authors who had a Madras connection.

Remember when Chenthil asked us about Novels which had Chennai as the central character? Well Thackeray’s Vanity Fair has some action set in the Madras division of the Indian Empire. Mr.Guy writes that William Thackeray was born in the Madras Presidency in 1811 while all other common sources on the Internet indicate that he was born in Calcutta.

Apart from Thackeray, Jane Austen’s cousin Philadelphia lived with and later married Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, part of the Madras council some years before that. Somerset Maugham’s connection to Madras involves his trip to Arunachala, meeting Sri Ramana Maharshi and subsequently writing as essay about the meeting as well as modelling the character of a guru Sri Ganesha in The Razor’s Edge after Sri Ramana Maharshi.

What I found particularly fascinating about Mr.Guy’s article was the mention of Avadhanam Paupiah, the corrupt dubash of Madras, who helped the Holland brothers swindle a lot of money through unethical deals.

3 Comments so far

  1. AB (unregistered) on July 21st, 2006 @ 10:16 pm

    Great mathematician and digital computer pioneer, Alan Turing’s parents were in India when he was conceived. His father was a civil servant and his mother just accompanied her husband during his tours in South India.
    Ref: Martin Davis’s Universal Computer

  2. vinod (unregistered) on July 21st, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

    On a lighter note, did you guys know Randor Guy’s real name is Rangadurai.

  3. Lavanya (unregistered) on July 23rd, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

    AB – thanks for that!

    Vinod – yeah, I had linked to Tilotamma’s post where Nancy explains that Randor Guy is a numerologically tailored version of Rangadurai.

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