publisher colophon
  • European Nurses and Governesses in Indian Princely Households:"Uplifting that impenetrable veil"?

Between the 1880s and 1940s, numerous European women sought work as nannies, nurses, governesses and companions in the zenanas (women's quarters) of Indian princely households. What motivated these women to work in the South Asian harem—a space long constructed by Europeans as exotic, erotic and oppressive? How did the British colonial state intervene in the nominally sovereign Indian princely states to regulate gendered domestic labors that could potentially subvert imperial hierarchies? While the colonial state and European nurses/governesses themselves understood these labors as a civilizing mission, how did South Asian mistresses perceive these relationships? The interracial inter-caste/class transcultural domestic service of European women in empire unsettles the "White master—Native servant" framework of imperial domestic labor, while also complicating historiographical assumptions about colonial power dynamics.

In 1865, Emmeline Lott, a retired British governess, published The Governess in Egypt: Harem life in Egypt and Constantinople. Lott claimed that the real interior of the "Oriental" harem had always remained "a terra incognita" to Europeans, but working as governess for the son of the Egyptian Pasha gave her the "un-heard of" opportunity to reside within the harem, and provide an authentic account of the "mysterious" lives "of the far-famed Odalisques."1 Lott compared her unprecedented feat of unveiling the harem—"uplifting that impenetrable veil"—with Sir Richard Burton's entry into the forbidden city of Mecca, in its revelatory potential for Europe about Oriental domestic mysteries.2 Shortly after Lott's successful literary venture, Anna Leonowens, another retired British governess, who had served in the household of King Mongkut of Siam, published her memoir The English Governess at the Siamese Court (1870), and its equally popular sequel, The Romance of the Harem (1873).3

By the late nineteenth century, the "Oriental" harem emerged as the domain of a new imperial feminine career that was lucrative, exotic, yet domestic. In South Asia, the harem or the women's quarters was called the zenana, while the more public male space of elite homes was the mardana. Between the 1880s and the 1940s, numerous European women sought work as nannies, nurses, governesses and companions in the zenanas of Indian princely states. This article explores the motivations of European women working as zenana caregivers, and interrogates the role of the British colonial state in regulating domestic labors that threatened imperial race, class, and gender hierarchies. Contrapuntally reading Indian elite women's writings, this article then examines how benevolent imperial sisterly labors were perceived, and resisted, from within the "oppressed" zenana that European women tried to "uplift" and "enlighten." Although European nurses/governesses considered themselves racially superior, South Asian elite women treated them as social inferiors, as servants, who were not only low-class, but also low/out-caste. While inspired by intersectional feminism, this article demonstrates that colonial race, class and caste hierarchies, did not always operate in tandem, but often clashed and contradicted, producing multiple, contesting, non-intersecting domestic power structures.

Between 1858 and 1947, two-fifths of South Asian territory belonged to various princely states, which were nominally sovereign principalities, not directly ruled by the British, but under the suzerainty of the British Crown. South Asian historiography of colonialism, nationalism, modernity and gender, however, predominantly focuses on British India. The handful of works on princely states, most notably by Ian Copland and Barbara Ramusack, are mainly political and economic histories.4 Although the zenana was frequently invoked in Orientalist, British imperialist, Indian nationalist, and feminist writings, women's everyday lives within princely zenanas have remained understudied. Elite courtly women's lives have recently received scholarly attention from Siobhan Lambert-Hurley and Angma Dey Jhala, but laboring women's lives are difficult to historicize from princely archives.5 European women working in the palaces of princely states, however, entered British official archives as well as princely autobiographical writings. Studying European nurses/nannies/governesses enables critical inquiries into interracial, inter-class/caste relations among women within the zenana, and also shifts our gaze to non-elite subjects within princely households.

Gender historians of the British Empire, like Mary Procida and Margaret Macmillan, in their historiographical challenge to empire as a male project, have mainly highlighted the domestic management role of British women who were "married to the empire," memsahibs who were "mothers, wives and daughters" of British administrators.6 But India offered opportunities for empire-building in a feminine domestic capacity even to unmarried and widowed lower class European women—in the various princely zenanas. Antoinette Burton and Eliza Kent have demonstrated that the trope of the "oppressed" zenana woman provided a crucial base for the emergence of imperial feminism, and British women's participation in missionary work and professional medicine.7 The optimistically-styled "zenanas missions," enjoyed some proselytization success among impoverished lower caste women; yet elite zenana women, though they may have read the Bible, rarely converted.8 Though European women's effort to introduce Christianity was rejected in elite Hindu and Muslim zenanas, there was a demand for European women as caregivers—medically trained nurses, nannies who could teach western etiquette and governesses who could teach English. The majority of nurses/governesses were British, though several German, French and occasionally American women also applied and were appointed in princely households. This article retains the colonial official category "European" to refer to them collectively.

The ubiquitous presence of European female servants in Indian princely households by the turn of the twentieth century unsettles the normative "White master—Native servant" framework of colonial domestic labor. Intimate ties between South Asian elite women and their European nurses/governesses enable us to study interracial homosocial colonial domestic relationships, in a field dominated by studies of interracial heterosexual domestic intimacies between European men and Asian women.9 "White" women working as servants and caregivers to "Brown" women, helps us rethink historiographical assumptions about colonial households, and about colonial race and class hierarchies. In his critique of Saidian emphasis on race as the primary analytical lens of empire, David Cannadine points out that for the British, class hierarchy was "as important as (perhaps more important than?)" racial hierarchy.10 British official archives and governesses' personal writings, despite derogatory racist attitudes, show a deep respect for princely families, the veneration being directly proportional to the princely state's affluence. On the other hand, if we look from the perspective of elite South Asians, their own high social status, sense of gender purity, caste and religious superiority mattered far more and trumped the racial superiority that Europeans claimed.

European Women's Exotic-Erotic Fascination with the "Oppressed" Indian Zenana

The "Oriental" household space was fetishized through poems and paintings about the mythical harem from the onset of European colonialism.11 Both ideologically and spatially, the cloistered harem corresponded to the growing cult of domesticity and separate spheres ideology in nineteenth-century Europe.12 Yet, in European Orientalist representations, the harem/zenana was the obverse of the Occidental home. The harem was culturally constructed both as a despotic patriarchal site of oppression and a site of pleasure. Eroticised literary and visual representations of odalisques lounging in mysterious seraglios, however, were by no means designed exclusively for European male consumption. European voyeuristic fascination with the harem was simultaneously hetero- and homoerotic. European women were also active consumers of harem art and literature. Sharon Marcus has argued that Victorian mainstream femininity was openly homoerotic; domestic commodity culture in Britain incited an erotic desire in women for feminine objects and feminine bodies.13 This argument about Victorian Britain can be extended to the imperial relationship between Victorian women and the feminized empire/Orient. The peacock feathers, diaphanous muslin veils, richly embroidered silk clothes, bejeweled drapery, gold ornaments, rubies, pearls, emeralds and diamonds—this feminized material culture created the harem as a hyper-feminine space, stimulating the exotic-erotic fantasies of European women. European women's exotic-erotic desires about the zenana, centered more on its hyper-femininity and material abundance, rather than the nakedness and pornographic sensuality highlighted by the harem paintings of Ingres, Delacroix, Watts, or Gérôme.

European women were not just consumers of the harem fantasy culturally constructed by European men, but they also participated in the literary/visual production of the harem.14 In South Asia, wives of East India Company administrators, from Fanny Parks to Marianne Postans, provided titillating descriptions of the fabulous wealth adorning the bodies of Indian zenana women. Parks, during her visit to a Bengali Hindu zenana, was awed by the bejeweled bodies and gauzy gold saris of the women ("I was no longer surprised," she gushed, "that no other men than their husbands were permitted to enter the zenana").15 Her description of Mulka, a princess in a Delhi Muslim zenana, was laden with erotic admiration: "How beautiful she looked, how very beautiful!" Parks found Mulka to be "the loveliest creature in existence.… so finely chiseled… her hands and arms are lovely, very lovely."16 Postans was similarly "seduced" by her visit to "the harem" of Junagarh, by the "coquettish and spoilt beauty" of the ranis "blazing with innumerable jewels," their hair strung with pearls, their necks adorned with dozens of necklaces, and innumerable "ear-rings, toe-rings, nose-rings, bracelets, and anklets."17 Such narratives of zenana visits inscribed the South Asian household with hyper-feminine beauty, wealth and pleasure, and appealed to Victorian female readership.

By the late nineteenth century, while voyeuristic fantasies persisted, British women's writings variously domesticated, desexualized and pathologized the South Asian zenana. Instead of a space of unbridled sexuality, Mary Frances Billington, an English journalist, argued in the 1890s, that "domestic interests" dominated the zenana. Life in the zenana was dull and unromantic, she opined, "family affection enters strongly into it."18 In highlighting the domestic and the familial, memsahibs probably imposed their own Victorian values of domesticity on the South Asian zenana. Meanwhile, in the growing volumes of Evangelical and Utilitarian women's writings, the dark, damp, unhygienic, claustrophobic trap of the zenana came to be construed as the root cause of Indian women's hysteria, depression and disease. The sari, praised by Parks as poetry in motion, now came to be incriminated for spreading cholera, dysentery and other diseases. Missionaries noted the eagerness of the "oppressed" zenana woman to "receive with open arms any daughter of the West who comes to assuage her pains and bind up her wounds."19

Given the range of assumptions circulating in Britain about the zenana, the motivations of British women seeking employment as governesses and nurses were probably very mixed. On one hand, the zenana offered the voyeuristic pleasure of inhabiting the fetishized harem, and intimately encountering "feudal" and "heathen" practices like slavery and polygamy, while maintaining respectability and modernity. On the other hand, there was the call of White women's burden, to illuminate the darkness of the zenana, to introduce western education and modern hygiene and to "uplift" oppressed Oriental sisters. An added bonus was a share of the fabled wealth of the zenana, in the form of exceptionally high wages, gifts, and perquisites. The overlapping possibilities—erotic, exotic, mercenary, feminist, missionary, medical, professional—that life as a zenana nurse provided, interested many educated but indigent British women. Zenanas provided a specifically feminine and domestic form of imperial career, inaccessible to British men. Yet in many ways, nurses and governesses partook in the imperial masculine projects of "unveiling," 'exploring" and "penetrating" one of the last unconquered spaces in empire.

For unmarried or widowed middle-class British women with little fortune, one of the few respectable but unenvious ways of earning a living was by working as a governess. Governesses in Victorian literature, like William Thackeray's Becky Sharp, or Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, often managed to bridge the ambiguous space between servant and family, between working-woman and lady, through marriage with the son/man of the house. But for the majority of real-life Victorian governesses, work-life was intensely isolating, humiliating and sexually repressive, and provided very little savings for retirement. The Indian zenana, by contrast, provided exciting remunerative opportunities to governesses, in addition to the possibilities of travel and cross-cultural friendships. With an abundant supply of governesses in the late nineteenth-century metropolitan market, the annual salary was usually less than £30. Command of a foreign language, especially French or German, was almost mandatory to secure a position in an upper class English household.20 In Indian elite households, on the other hand, native fluency in English was enough to guarantee governesses more than Rs.150 (£15) per month. Even zenana nurses, who earned relatively less, commanded salaries of Rs.100 per month, like Mrs. Brouillion, nurse to a Sahibzada of the Salar Jung household in 1892.21 By the turn of the century, most governesses earned between Rs.200–300 a month. Miss Dyson, for instance, who served as "guardian to the wife of the Chief of Miraj" (1902–06), received a monthly salary of Rs.250, which was later increased to Rs.300 (£30).22 Companions to elderly Maharanis earned even more. In 1905, Miss Isaacs was appointed for Rs.400 a month as "the companion to the Maharani of Indore." By annual increments, her monthly salary reached Rs.600 (£60) by 1907!23 These immense salaries were in addition to rent-free furnished quarters, and the free usage of palace carriages and palace servants. The salaries and perquisites in Indian princely households being much higher than in British imperial households, British maids who came to India serving British families sometimes defected to Indian zenanas. Marjorie Ussher, an Irish woman, for instance, came to India as governess to the children of a Brigadier Stirling. Within two years, she accepted the more lucrative position as governess to the sons of Begum Waliud-Dowla, of the powerful Paigah family, wards of the Nizam of Hyderabad.24

Between the 1880s and 1940s, the Foreign Department of the British Government of India (GOI) received numerous applications from European women, desiring appointments as governesses, nurses and companions in Indian princely households. A study of the applicants provides valuable insights into their motivations. Most of the applicants were middle-aged British women, though some older than sixty also applied. They were usually educated, and had middle class upbringing, but were under financial strain, due to widowhood, or loss of property. Most of them had family connections in India, through civil or military service, or missionary work. In 1907, when the political agent of Bhawalpur requested the Foreign Office to forward the names of some European candidates to fill up the post of nurse for the three-year-old Nawab of Bhawalpur, the colonial government sent him a shortlist of twelve women from its register. Among them were a fifty-eight-year-old Mrs. Roberts who had applied for "an appointment as Companion to a native lady," a middle-aged Miss Mayes who had registered her name for "Governess or Companion in the family of some Indian Prince or Noble," and a forty-three-year-old Miss Bushby who had registered for "Governess to a native lady of rank."25 The applicants highlighted their fluency in Indian languages, familiarity with "Native" culture and school teaching experience. Miss Murray, a fifty-one-year-old applicant as "Companion or Governess in a Chief's family," advertised her fluency in Hindustani and Marathi, and added that she had "maintained herself creditably and respectably for several years as a teacher." Another candidate, Mrs. Aitken, who had registered for a post "as Companion to a Maharani or her daughters," wrote that she "had considerable experience of Indian life and customs," and could "speak Urdu and Marathi fluently."26 Some British women underlined their imperial feminist responsibility, like thirty-six-year-old Miss Geddes, who desired "to be Companion to a Rani or to have charge of a young child." In her application letter, she mentioned her "good education" and her "energetic" and "very conscientious" nature, and highlighted her "greatest interest in the enlightenment of Indian ladies."27 Others emphasized their medical training and nursing experience, like Miss Mary Bartlet, who mentioned in her letter, "for a post as guardian to a young native noble," that she had served fulltime in Queen Alexandria's Military Nursing Service.28

None of these women's applications mentioned the word "harem"; instead, they requested service in the "families" or "households" of elite Indians. Late colonial official vocabulary discouraged sexualized references to the South Asian domestic space. Yet, exotic-erotic fascinations shaped many governesses own desires and experiences during their service in the South Asian zenana. The letters of Marjorie Ussher—governess to the sons of the Hyderabadi Begum Waliud-dowla—to her parents in 1930s Ireland, were replete with stories of pearl necklaces, gold ornaments and wealth "piled up on trays" that arrived at the Begum's house every month, sent by the Nizam of Hyderabad—"the richest man in the world."29 At the same time, Ussher expressed profound pity for the purdanashin Begum, who was mistreated by the Nizam, and constantly tormented by her polygamous late husband's slave-concubines and illegitimate children. The Begum's household thus simultaneously emerged in the governess's letters as an intriguing site of untold riches, as well as a site of Native patriarchal oppression. Ussher's photo albums depict her seated on the margins the Begum's family photos in Western attire. However, a couple of solo shots show Ussher racially cross-dressed as a zenana lady, decked up in chunky gold necklaces, bangles, and an expensive silk sari with gilded borders. Palm trees surround her, evoking the impression of a tropical pleasure garden. Ussher labels herself in these photos as "Begum Ushfaud-Dowla," playing out her imperialist harem fantasies on her own body and name.30 An adjacent photo shows four dark-skinned Indian servants in starkly simple white attire, acting as the perfect foil to the British governess's sartorial embodiment of the exotic-erotic zenana.

The Colonial State's Regulation of European Nurses/Governesses in Princely States

The engagement of European women in princely Indian households involved a complicated bureaucratic procedure, as revealed from the British GOI's Foreign Department archives. Usually, Nawabs/Rajahs appointed nurses for their young wives, or children. Elderly Ranis/Begums chose their own European attendants, subverting stereotypes of passive zenana women who had no control over their lives. The Durbar (court of the native ruler) assisted in conducting interviews for the European women until a suitable attendant was found. The Durbar then wrote to the British Resident or the Political Agent, who was the official diplomat of the GOI posted in every Indian princely state. He had to recommend the terms and salary of the woman, and obtain a formal sanction letter from the GOI, before the employment was formalized. The time-consuming procedure was merely protocol; the Resident or Political Agent always recommended the nurse/governess nominated by the Durbar; similarly, the GOI too, hardly ever withheld sanction. In 1908, the power to sanction the employment of Europeans in "positions of minor importance," especially in private or domestic roles in Native States, was delegated directly to the British diplomats.31 Though the colonial state only had power to sanction, and had no say in the actual appointments, from the 1880s up to the 1940s, the Foreign Department continued to receive applications from numerous European women seeking work as governesses, nurses and companions in the princely states.

The British colonial state's official documents discussed three major reasons for regulating the employment of Europeans in Native States. Firstly, European employees needed protection from "ungenerous shabby treatment" and "gross breach of faith" by Native rulers.32 Secondly, it was necessary to ensure that Native States were not "exploited by unscrupulous adventurers," who could potentially cause "administrative embarrassment" for British imperial rule.33 Thirdly, Native States had to be prevented from "spoiling the labor market" by granting "remuneration largely in excess of that paid to our officers for the performance of similar duties in British India."34 The British colonial state recognized that "we are not dealing with a limited category of superior officers, such as doctors or engineers," but a very diverse range of princely state employees including "nurses, midwives, lady doctors, governesses, lady companions."35 The colonial state's gendered regulations focused more on restricting generous emoluments of "superior officers," who were always men, to prevent "heartburn" and "defection" of British officials to princely states. However, the colonial state was not so concerned with curtailing the remuneration of Europeans engaged in private and domestic roles, who were mostly women. European women, in any case, did not have too many opportunities for employment in British India for the colonial state to fear competition.

In 1905, when a request for sanction to the employment of Miss Isaacs as companion to the Maharani of Indore, arrived at the Foreign Department, colonial state officials disapprovingly noted the huge discrepancy in the monthly salaries and emoluments of European women—from Rs.100 (for Miss Reynolds, governess to the Begum of Bhopal) to Rs.500 (for Mrs. Whitehouse, companion to the Maharani of Bharatpur). Viceroy Lord Curzon—noted for his interventionist policies—proposed regulating the salaries of European nurses/housekeepers. He argued that women "of a similar class in England" would never receive more than £100–150 per annum; British ladies who applied for such posts in India were "not highly trained Governesses with certificates or diplomas," but women "at a loose end" who had lost husbands/brothers/sons in India and did not have the means to live on.36 Curzon fixed the maximum salary of these unskilled women at £250 per annum, or Rs.300 per month. Other officers agreed that the outrageous salaries and perquisites that governesses enjoyed in some native states were "excessive and unjustifiable."37 Yet the Foreign

Department Secretary eventually sanctioned Miss Isaacs's salary of Rs.400 per month, arguing that the excess should be excused "in the case of a wealthy and important state like Indore."38 The very next year, the Indore Durbar applied for a renewal of Miss Isaacs's contract for another three years, at a monthly pay of Rs.500, rising by annual increments to Rs.600. The issue of governesses' salaries exceeding the standard fixed by Lord Curzon once again came up in colonial official discussions. This time, Viceroy Lord Minto pointed out that "as a matter of policy affecting our relations with Native States," the GOI "should avoid interference as far as possible" into the "private affairs" of the princely households.39 The salaries of governesses, Lord Minto opined, "in no way concerns imperial finance." Miss Isaacs's salary was "extravagant," he agreed, but "more harm would be done by the interference of the Govt. of India, than any good to be derived by the State of Indore from a small saving."40 Thus, evoking the sovereignty of princely states, the colonial state circumvented its own regulatory policies for the emoluments of European women employed in zenanas.

The colonial state's regulations in Native States were based on various gendered, racial and sexual concerns. The GOI intervened to ensure that European male "superior" public officers were not too generously compensated, but at the same time, they allowed European female servants in "domestic and private" posts to receive emoluments that far exceeded governmental regulations. The colonial state, moreover, refused to intervene in cases of European maidservants working in British imperial households, but was concerned with the protection of European women working in Indian princely households. In 1905, Miss Emma Harvey, who had come to India from Bristol as nurse to a British lady, was found abandoned, sick and destitute in a Bangalore hospital. A flurry of letters between the Home, Political and Legislative Departments agreed that she had been "wrongfully discharged," but decided that she had "no legal right to claim expenses" from her British employer. Great pity was expressed at her sad fate, but no step was taken to compel her British employer to pay her salary or return passage. It was decided that Miss Harvey's case "ought to be left to private charity."41 In the very same year, however, the Foreign Department intervened in the case of a Mrs. Whitehouse, who claimed to be wrongfully discharged from the Bharatpur Durbar. Mrs. Whitehouse worked as companion to the Maji Sahiba and governess to the young Maharaja of Bharatpur. Though her request for an interview with the Viceroy was denied, the GOI initiated enquiries to ascertain that there was no breach of contract—though she did not receive the required six months' notice, she was paid six months' salary upfront by the Durbar.42 In another later case, when the exiled ex-Maharaja of Nabha dismissed a nurse, Rebecca, for "unsatisfactory work," colonial state officers wrote letters to him with the ultimatum to settle her dues within a fortnight, or risk a fine.43

Around the turn of the twentieth century, all "low" and intimate forms of White female labor, which subverted the masculine and racial prestige of the British in India, were being criminalized. The most threatening figures who blurred social and sexual hierarchies between colonizing and colonized men were White prostitutes. The access of Indian men to the bodies of White women was strictly regulated by colonial police surveillance, and laws were passed against "white slavery" and "trafficking" of European prostitutes to empire.44 Petitions were filed by British administrators against the employment of White women "in a menial capacity" as barmaids, arguing that the spectacle of White women publicly serving Native men undermined British racial prestige before the Natives ("humiliating and derogatory to us as the ruling race").45 Although sexual liaisons between South Asian women and European soldiers were tolerated and even encouraged in order to prevent homosexuality among troops, marital relations between Indian men and White women were legally discouraged and financially penalized. In such an ambience of gendered sexual anxiety, the colonial state was particularly interested in the protection of European women in Native states.

In imperial cultural memory since the 1857 Indian mutiny, there was a paranoia about Indian men's lust after White women.46 So, colonial state officials insisted that European women entering South Asian zenanas as nurses and governesses must be "elderly," or post-sexual, women.47 In 1909, the India Office (London) made enquiries about a Miss Davies, whom the Maharaja of Kapurthala wished to employ as nursery governess to his daughter. Her "character" was found to be satisfactory; moreover, she had worked as governess in several English homes. Yet, for the post of zenana governess, particularly in Kapurthala, she was considered unsuitable. After all, just in 1908, the Maharaja of Kapurthala had married a Spanish flamenco dancer as his fifth wife. Sir Richmond Ritchie, the under-secretary of state for India, wrote to the Foreign Department, confidentially expressing his concerns: "Her age is stated to be about 25. I am taking steps to warn her unofficially as to the circumstances in which she might be placed." When it was discovered that Miss Davies had already taken up her work at Kapurthala, Sir Richmond requested the local British authority to "keep a friendly eye on Miss Davies," so that "she will have no difficulty in throwing up the appointment and getting away, if she finds it desirable to do so."48 Despite not regulating the terms of appointments and emoluments, the colonial state was nevertheless concerned with the sexual regulation and protection of European women working in princely zenanas, which was tied to the gendered protection of imperial masculine prestige.

The British colonial state was also careful about ensuring the political loyalties of European women working in princely states. Generating knowledge about the colonized population was crucial to colonial cultural hegemony and political control.49 The trickiest space of India which had eluded colonial epistemic control was the zenana. The growing revivalist Indian nationalism sanctified the inner domain of the Indian home—the zenana, the space of women—which came to be understood as outside the purview of colonial intrusion.50 By recommending and sanctioning the appointments of suitable European women, and making them accountable to British Residents and Political Agents, the colonial state sought to exercise control over the inaccessible South Asian zenana. European nurses and governesses whose loyalty towards the colonial state was suspect, or who were getting dangerously intimate with zenana women, were considered undesirable by the GOI. In 1891, investigations were started against Mrs. Brouillion, nurse to the son of the late Sir Salar Jung II, the prime minister to the Nizam of Hyderabad, as she had allied with the Begums of the Salar Jung family in a "bribery case." The British Resident supported her dismissal "for interfering in matters that did not concern her." However, the head ladies of Salar Jung's zenana, including Zainab Begum and Bari Begum Sahiba, insisted that Mrs. Brouillion be reinstated, as the child refused nutrition from anyone else. Ultimately, the wishes of the zenana women were complied with, despite the British Resident's insistence that Mrs. Brouillion was "not a fit person for such a post of responsibility."51

British officials intervened in the case of "unfaithful" White women who had switched loyalty from the colonial state to the princely state. In 1917, Miss Forbes, companion to the young widowed ex-Rani of Mandi, was officially reprimanded by the colonial state for writing "hysterical letters" claiming that the "Rani's life had been ruined by the harsh and repressive policy" of the British government.52 Soon it was found that Miss Forbes had aided the ex-Rani in the anti-British Mandi conspiracy case, and she had also contributed "seditious" articles to the Indian press criticizing the British government as "a blundering tyrant." Miss Forbes was an American citizen, and may have been inspired by the anti-imperialist movements of the time. The British GOI informed the American embassy about Miss Forbes's treason, and she was deported from India.53

During the decades of anti-colonial nationalism, and particularly during the war years, the colonial state was especially careful in ensuring that "enemy" governesses with potential anti-British agendas did not gain influence in princely states. In 1943, Mrs. Bessie Rocke, an experienced German governess, who had been working for a British family in Bombay, was offered the post of governess to the children of Sardar Jadhave Saheb of Gwalior. This was during the Second World War, when Indian nationalist leaders had been imprisoned in the wake of the Quit India movement, and some extremist leaders had joined the Axis powers. The Bombay Police Commissioner's confidential report stated that nothing was found against her, but the British Resident successfully persuaded the Gwalior Durbar that under wartime travel restrictions, Mrs. Rocke would not be a suitable governess.54 Even governesses who were not "enemy" nationals came under colonial official vigilance, if they were suspected of anti-British sentiments. In 1945, a Montessori-trained American, Miss Norma Makey, got the offer to be governess to princesses Padma Raja and Usha Raja of Gwalior. The colonial official notes discussed her unsuitability for such a "responsible" position, given that she had been a secretary for the British Theosophist George Arundale, and had also taught at the Besant School at Adyar, founded in memory of the Home-Rule advocate Mrs. Annie Besant. However, her appointment was finally approved by the colonial government, with one officer noting: "I presume Dr. Arundale does not exercise any anti-British influence on his associates.…"55 During the war years, the colonial state not only kept a closer eye on who was allowed entry as governesses into princely states, but they even interrogated "enemy" nationals already employed as zenana governesses. Though the GOI official documents labelled English, Irish, Scottish, French, German and even American governesses/nurses as "European," in the paranoid frenzy during the war and nationalism years, the particular nationalities of governesses/nurses became important to the colonial government's regulatory calculations.

Despite occasional anxieties, in colonial official discourse, European governesses were overall believed to have a positive influence, by cultivating modernity and Anglophilia in the minds of Indian princes. European, especially British, governesses were expected to promote fidelity through Western education in princely zenanas. After all, Western education had created a class of loyal Bengali babus in the previous century thoroughly "English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect," fulfilling Lord Macaulay's famous prediction.56 The purpose of princely education, from the colonial state's viewpoint, was to create an Anglicized pro-British class of Native rulers. Whether as a result of western education or otherwise, princely rulers were overwhelmingly in favor of British rule, even when Indian nationalism was in full swing, and Britons—both in official and popular circles—were complacent about the loyalty of the Indian royalty. A short 1920s fictional account caricatured an Anglophile Indian Raja who believed he was in fact "more European" than Englishmen. After all, the Raja argued, he was brought up by a Scottish nurse, an Irish governess and an English tutor, who had all taught him that the traditions and customs of his country "belonged to a lower stage of civilization" and he must rise above them and be the "most English prince in India."57

Not just in imperial official and popular imagination, in European governesses' own writings too they appear as figures of authority and enlightenment in the zenana. Marjorie Ussher's letters home to her parents construed her role as the harbinger of western modernity in the household of Begum Waliud-Dowla. Her letters constantly depicted the widowed Begum as an oppressed woman who had been abused by her polygamous ex-husband, and was now at the mercy of the patriarchal Nizam. Other sources, however, show the Begum single-handedly waging a legal battle to reclaim property belonging to her ex-husband.58 The Begum was also the president of the Hyderabadi Women's Association. Newspaper reports highlighted the Begum's role in promoting women's welfare and education.59 But Ussher's letters express condescension for the Association. She regularly wrote how sorry she felt for the Begum: "the poor little soul" who was so "helpless."60 Ussher also expressed profound pity for the Begum's daughters who entered arranged marriages as child brides, fearing that her rigorous Western training would now be wasted.

Perspectives from the Zenana

While the colonial state and European women themselves valued their roles in Indian households as enlighteners, Indian royalty often had very different reasons for employing European nurses and governesses. Late colonial Indian elites were avid collectors of European paintings and objets d'art, such as French clocks, Belgian chandeliers, British crockery, and marble statuettes of Greco-Roman goddesses.61 At a time of competitive collectomania and Euromania among South Asian princes, a European nurse in the domestic retinue was undoubtedly a figure of novelty, as well as a marker of status for Nawabs and Maharajahs. Having a woman of the ruling race as a servant in his zenana enabled politically and militarily emasculated Indian monarchs to demonstrate their masculine power, prestige and social equality with the British ruling elite. Though European governesses imagined themselves as agents of progress in the zenana, for Indian princely employers, these women were often merely part of the Westernized domestic paraphernalia that bolstered the public performance of modernity and progress.

European governesses serving in South Asian households emphasized their moral and civilizing roles; but a survey of aristocratic memoirs shows that zenana women themselves remembered European governesses quite differently. In the 1921 autobiography of Maharani Sunity Devee of Cooch Behar, the English nurses and governesses are marginal figures, appearing very fleetingly. Sunity Devee was the daughter of the Bengali reformer Keshab Sen, and was married to the Maharaja of Cooch Behar in 1878. While narrating her early married days, she mocked the British government, who had, "according to their ideas, discovered for the ideal wife the ideal governess." Miss S was a "lady of good family," she wrote, but "useless except as a teacher of les convenances."62 The eager young Maharani wanted to learn the histories of other nations and many foreign languages. The governess, however, was only capable of teaching German, and her German being "dominated by a strong Scottish accent," the young Maharani "doubted its conversational value." Sunity Devee's overall verdict was: "It was an unfortunate experience. No doubt the lady meant well… but she frightened and repelled me… my education suffered in consequence."63 Far from hailing her British governess as her enlightener, Sunity Devee attributed her inadequate education to Miss S's inefficiency.

Sunity Devee and her husband eventually left the multigenerational polygamous zenana of her father-in-law, which was important for Sunity Devee to mark her own modernity. Equally crucial to highlight her Westernized outlook was to point out: "We had English nurses for all our children." She recounted the initial curiosity of her old nurse, Mrs. Eldridge, about meeting the Maharani, whom she expected to be "a stout dark uneducated" zenana woman, and her bewilderment at discovering just the opposite: "Now that I've seen you, I'm so taken aback that I can hardly believe my eyes."64 This anecdote not only highlights Sunity Devee's self-construction as a westernized modern Indian woman, but also contains a latent critique of imperial White feminist desire to "uplift" benighted zenana women. In another part of her autobiography, Sunity Devee echoes the husband-hunting fishing-fleet stereotype about memsahibs and writes that her house "is a regular matrimonial agency"; every English maid she had in her house eventually got married in India and "even Mrs. Eldridge left me to marry a station-master."65 Sunity Devee's voluminous autobiography details her family life; but except mentioning Mrs. Eldridge a brief few times, she does not even name the other English nurses, indicating their insignificance in her domestic life and in her memories of the household.

Another Indian princess, Brinda Devee, fiancée of the Tikka Raja of Kapurthala, growing up in the early 1900s, narrated her childhood memories with her English governess Miss Marble. Brinda Devee's Indian ayah convinced her that the English governess was polluting and "untouchable" to the Hindu princess, and had an "evil influence" on her health. Brinda Devee described Miss Marble as "a thin, homely spinster who tried to be kind."66 While the princess was very close to her ayah, the governess seemed like a stranger to her—"I could not understand her and she could not understand me."67 Reversing the racial inferiorization of Indians by the British, Brinda Devee argued that from the Hindu high caste perspective that she had grown up with, "Miss Marble had no caste. She was a European, a complete alien. As such, she was more untouchable than the lowest Hindu untouchable."68 Gradually Brinda Devee became more and more fascinated with Miss Marble's stories about Europe, and enjoyed her training in European etiquette. However, her strong feelings about caste periodically resurfaced, and Miss Marble once again became the casteless alien, "the untouchable who would contaminate me."69 By pointing out her childhood caste prejudices, Brinda Devee risked projecting her childhood self as unscientific and superstitious—the precise attacks that Europeans made against zenana women. But by doing so, she countered European racial hierarchy with Hindu caste hierarchy. As a young princess, however, it was less of a domestic power struggle with her governess, and more of an intense bodily disgust and fear of contamination. Especially during meals, the out-caste Miss Marble's polluting arrival, she noted, made her stomach turn over. "Because of my mother's feelings about caste, and my own, I was permitted to eat alone with only my ayah," she wrote.70 Not only Brinda Devee but other princely women also routinely declined to dine with, or even dine in the presence of their European domestic staff.71

Brinda Devee's childhood religious and casteist inclinations eventually became the foil for her modern Western self-construction. She internalized the civilizing role of her European governesses, and credited her French governess Mademoiselle Meillon for convincing her polygamous conservative but Francophile father-in-law, the Maharaja of Kapurthala, the value of a Parisian education for his daughter-in-law. It was Mademoiselle Meillon, Brinda Devee felt, who brought her out of the claustrophobic zenana into Europe, and planned her schooling in Paris. Soon, however, the young princess wrote about the Mademoiselle, "Although I was fond of her, she was an extremely controlling woman." Domestic tensions escalated, and "it was agreed by all of us that the best solution would be for the Mademoiselle to leave."72 With this, the French governess suddenly disappeared from Brinda Devee's narrative, just like her English governess had abruptly vanished. The casual disappearance of European governesses from written memoirs of princely women suggests how little they emotionally and functionally mattered in the princely household, except as symbols of their mistresses' Western modernity.

For other zenana women, having a European nurse had little to do with status. Princess Abida Sultaan, born in the princely state of Bhopal in 1913, was brought up by her grandmother, Sultan Kaikhusrau Jahan, the ruling Begum of Bhopal from 1901 to 1926. Bhopal had a long line of female rulers, with four Begums ruling from 1819 to 1926. As the heiress apparent to the throne, Abida was given an Islamic upbringing, while her two younger sisters received European training. Abida's self-narrative challenges the perception that a European nurse signified higher status for zenana women. She recounts that because she was the eldest, and the most beloved among the three sisters, that is why her grandmother pampered her with a Muslim nurse, Khalloo. Her second sister Sajida had a German nurse, Marie, who had accompanied the ruling begum to England in 1911. Abida's youngest sister Rabia was raised by an Irish nurse Mrs. Burke (Maima), a former worker at a Bombay hospital. Marie later nursed Abida's own son, while Maima attended to Raibia's children. Multigenerational caregiving in the zenana seems to have been common for European nurses who had no families of their own to return to. Besides the European nurses, the Bhopal royal household also employed several European governesses like Miss Cohen and Mrs. Wheeler, who only receive cursory reference in Abida's memoirs.73

Instead of expressing gratitude to the European nurses for their superior training, Abida and her sisters constantly caricatured the Irish and German nurses' "incorrect" English: "Er Eighness," "house-bend," "seester" and "beezeness."74 By contrast, Khalloo was a "devout" and "respectable widow" who could "read and write Urdu."75 Khalloo considered herself superior as well, and led a domestic "jihad against Maima and Marie because they were kafirs." Performing her anxieties about close contact with polluting European bodies, Khalloo washed her hands obsessively "because she was unable to avoid touching things contaminated by the kafirs."76 While the colonial state carefully categorized and hierarchized European, Eurasian and Indian nurses, Abida's narrative homogenized the Indian-Muslim and European-Christian caregivers as "The Three Graces," who looked after the sisters, "The Three Disgraces."77 Later on in her memoirs, Abida referred to Marie together with her son's Abyssinian maid Jingo, as "Marie and Jingo," without racially distinguishing the European and African nursemaids who bathed and fed her beloved son.

When the world war broke out, British officials came to enquire about Marie, as she was German; but the Begum negotiated with the British Government, convincing them that Marie was innocent, and thus "saved her," resulting in Marie's lifelong "fanatical loyalty" to the Begum.78 Rather than White women rescuing oppressed Native women, in Abida's narrative, it was the powerful zenana matriarch who protected the European nurse from state inquisition, and saved her from concentration camp. Far from introducing modern scientific training in the zenana, Abida mocked both the trained European nurses' "profound belief in Oriental mysticism, magic and curses."79 Inverting the colonial state's expectation that European nurses would uplift zenana women and bring them out of purdah (veil), Abida's accounts narrate how both Marie and Mrs. Burke became "purdah ladies" instead. Despite being Christian, Marie and Mrs. Burke studied the Quran with Abida and her Muslim nurse Khalloo. Though they were free to go outside, both the European women preferred to seclude themselves inside the fortified palace in Bhopal where no men were allowed. Eventually they became so shy that if any man came nearby they became "just as embarrassed as a Muslim purdah lady." Abida's characterization of the European nurses/governesses as "purdah ladies" contrasts sharply with her own refusal to stay behind the purdah and her rebellious refusal to be veiled. While narrating the time when the British came to look for Marie, Abida quips, "What mischief could a purdah lady do?"80 Years of serving in the Bhopal zenana under a powerful Begum had Orientalized and Islamized the European governesses, at least in Abida's memory. Instead of unveiling the zenana, the European women ended up imposing the veiled seclusion of the zenana upon themselves.

In a published article on the Begums of Bhopal, Abida described her grandmother's choice to rule as a burqa-clad Muslim woman, and detailed her contributions to "women's education and emancipation."81 Yet, her article on the progressive political rule of the Bhopal Begums never mentions any of the European governesses. Her grandmother herself wrote an account of her life—Gohur-I-Iqbal—which detailed her household and her administrative life.82 Gohur-I-Iqbal was a sequel to the previous ruler, Shah Jahan Begum's Tajul-Ikbal, which began with a political history of Bhopal before charting a history of her own domestic and political life.83 The Bhopal Begums' political accounts highlighted their modern enlightened rule through the promotion of both Eastern and Western science and education. The absence of European nurses and governesses in these political memoirs, in contrast to Abida's nostalgic representation of her childhood European nurses in her domestic memoirs, indicates once again Indian aristocratic memory of their European nurses as domestic caregivers and servants, rather than as political emancipators and teachers.

Indian zenana women may have sometimes internalized the "oppressed" position assigned to them by imperial rule, and looked upon their European nurses and governesses as agents of progress, modernity and liberation. However, reading princely women's memoirs demonstrates that they usually remembered their European nurses and governesses very differently from what the colonial state intended, or what the nurses themselves hoped to achieve. While European women imagined themselves to be morally and intellectually uplifting their "native" wards, the self-narratives of South Asian elite women challenged the imperial infantilization of zenana. In the princesses' memories, the European governesses are cast variously as polluting, inefficient, unsocial and even ridiculed. While the colonial state and European governesses/nurses overemphasized their civilizing influence on princely zenanas, in the princesses' memoirs, these European women were mere servants; sometimes romanticized, but mostly insignificant marginal figures, often not remembered at all. The racial and civilizational superiority assumed by the colonial state and by European women, was challenged and subverted by the class/caste authority and superior femininity that elite zenana women took for granted in their relationships with their nurses/governesses.

Satyasikha Chakraborty
Rutgers University
For correspondence:


I would like to thank Seth Koven, Chie Ikeya, Bonnie Smith, Temma Kaplan, Julia Stephens, and the participants of the "Gender, household labour relations and (post)colonialism" conference in Yogyakarta (2016), particularly Shalini Grover, for providing valuable feedback on various drafts of this article. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers of JCCH for their insightful comments. Research at the National Archives of India and at the British Library was made possible through financial support from Rutgers University and the Mellon Foundation.


1. Emmeline Lott, The Governess in Egypt: Harem life in Egypt and Constantinople (London: Richard Bentley, 1867), vi–ix.

2. Lott, Governess in Egypt, viii.

3. Anna Leonowens, The English Governess at the Siamese Court (Boston: Fields, Osgood and Co., 1870); The Romance of the Harem (Boston: Osgood and Co., 1873).

4. Barbara Ramusack, The Indian Princes and their States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Ian Copland, State, Community and Neighbourhood in Princely North India, c. 1900–1950 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005). For a discussion of the field, see Chitralekha Zutshi, "Re-visioning Princely States in South Asian Historiography: A review," The Indian Economic and Social Review 46/3 (2009): 301–13. Another recent addition to the historiography of modernity in princely states is Janaki Nair's Mysore Modern: Rethinking the region under princely rule (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).

5. Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Muslim Women, Reform and Princely Patronage: Nawab Sultan Jahan Begam of Bhopal (London and New York: Routledge, 2007); Angma Dey Jhala, Courtly Indian Women in Late Imperial India (London and New York: Routledge, 2016). These studies focus mainly on aristocratic women.

6. Mary Procida, Married to the Empire: Gender, politics and imperialism in India, 1883–1947 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2002); Margaret MacMillan, Women of the Raj: The mothers, wives and daughters of the British Empire in India (New York: Random House, 2007).

7. Antoinette Burton, "Contesting the Zenana: The mission to make 'lady doctors for India," 1874–1885," Journal of British Studies 35 (July 1996): 368–97; Eliza Kent, "Tamil Bible Women and the Zenana Missions of Colonial South India," History of Religions 39/2 (Nov. 1999): 117–49.

8. Emma Raymond Pitman, Indian Zenana Missions: Their need, origin, objects, agents, modes of worship, and results (London: John Snow and Co., 1903), 38–40.

9. Ann Laura Stoler, Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the intimate in colonial rule (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2002); Durba Ghosh, Sex and the Family in Colonial India (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).

10. David Cannadine, Ornamentalism: How the British saw their Empire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 8–9.

11. Ruth Bernard Yeazell, Harems of the Mind: Passages of Western art and literature (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000).

12. Irvin Cemil Schick, "The Harem as Gendered Space and the Spatial Reproduction of Gender," in Harem Histories: Envisioning places and living spaces, edited by Marilyn Booth (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010), 69–84.

13. Sharon Marcus, Between Women: Friendship, desire, and marriage in Victorian England (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007).

14. Reina Lewis, Gendering Orientalism: Race, femininity and representation (London and New York: Routledge, 1996); also see ch.4. "Eroticized Bodies: Representing Other women," in Reina Lewis, Rethinking Orientalism: Women, travel and the Ottoman harem (London: I.B. Tauris & Co., 2004).

15. Fanny Parks, Wanderings of a Pilgrim in Search of the Picturesque during four and twenty years in the East, with Revelations of Life in the Zenana, Vol. 1 (London: Pelham Richardson, 1850), 59–60.

16. Parks, Wanderings of a Pilgrim, 383–84.

17. Marianne Postans, Western India in 1838 (London: Sanders and Otley, 1839), 87–90.

18. Mary Frances Billington, Woman in India (London: Chapman, 1895), xii–xiii.

19. Mary Weitbrecht, Women of India and Christian Work in the Zenana (London: James Nisbet, 1875), 129.

20. Katie Green, "Victorian Governesses: A look at education and professionalization" (MA thesis, University of Toledo, 2009), 33, 71; Ruth Brandon, Governess: The lives and times of the real Jane Eyres (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2011).

21. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Progs. Nos. 434–436 B, Dec 1892, National Archives of India (henceforth NAI).

22. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Progs. Nos. 255 B, Sept 1907, NAI.

23. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Progs. Nos. 286–287, June 1905; Progs. No. 136, March 1907, NAI.

24. Papers of Marjorie Ussher, MSS Eur D859, 1936–43, British Library (henceforth BL).

25. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Bundle No. 255 B, Sept 1907, NAI.

26. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Bundle No. 255 B, Sept 1907, NAI.

27. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Bundle No. 255 B, Sept 1907, NAI.

28. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Bundle No. 255 B, Sept 1907, NAI.

29. MSS Eur D859, BL.

30. MSS Eur D859/17B, BL.

31. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, A, No.99, Aug 1908, NAI.

32. Foreign Department, Secret Branch, G, 1–3, November, 1905, NAI.

33. Foreign Department, Secret Branch, G, 1–3, November, 1905, NAI.

34. Foreign Department, Secret Branch, G, 1–3, November, 1905, NAI.

35. Foreign Department, Secret Branch, G, 1–3, November, 1905, NAI.

36. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, B, 286–287, June 1905, NAI.

37. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, B, 286–287, June 1905, NAI.

38. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, B, 286–287, June 1905, NAI.

39. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, B, 183–184, Nov 1906, NAI.

40. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, B, 183–184, Nov 1906, NAI.

41. Home Department, Public Branch, Progs. Nos. 152–53A, 1905, NAI.

42. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Progs. Nos. 72–73, August 1905, NAI.

43. Home Department, Political Branch, Progs. No.44/2, 1939.

44. Ashwini Tambe, Codes of Misconduct: Regulating prostitution in late colonial Bombay (Minneapolis: University of Minnesotta Press, 2009), 52–78.

45. Kenneth Balhatchet, Race, Sex and Class under the Raj: Imperial attitudes and policies and their critics (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1980), 138.

46. Jenny Sharpe, "The Unspeakable Limits of Rape: Colonial violence and counter-insurgency," Genders 10 (1991): 25–46.

47. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, 255B, Sept 1907, NAI.

48. Foreign Department, Deposit Branch -1, Progs. No. 84, March 1909, NAI.

49. Bernard Cohn, Colonialism and its Forms of Knowledge: The British in India (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996).

50. Partha Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 233–53.

51. Foreign Department, Internal Branch, Progs. Nos. 434–436B, Dec 1892, NAI.

52. Foreign and Political Department, Confidential B, General, Progs. Nos.4–7, 1917, NAI.

53. Foreign and Political Department, Confidential B, General, Progs. Nos. 19–54, 1920, NAI.

54. File 114/S/43, IOR/R/2/768/282, 1943, BL.

55. File 19-S/45, IOR/R/2/768/299, 1945, BL.

56. Macaulay's Minute on Education, 1835.

57. Owen Oliver, "The Blind God: The strange story of the hidden jewels of Abdul Sindh,' in Munsay's Magazine 74 (Frank A. Munsay Company, 1922), 543–50.

58. Shoobert Papers, Cambridge South Asian Archives.

59. "The Women's Movement in Hyderabad", The Madras Mail, Sunday, February 21, 1937.

60. MSS Eur D859, 1936–43, BL.

61. Private collections of the Wodeyars of Mysore, at Mysore Palace; collections of the Prime Ministers of the Nizam, at Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad.

62. Sunity Devee, Maharani of Cooch Behar, The Autobiography of an Indian Princess (London: John Murray, 1921), 75.

63. Sunity Devee, Maharani of Cooch Behar, 76.

64. Sunity Devee, Maharani of Cooch Behar, 93.

65. Sunity Devee, Maharani of Cooch Behar, 135.

66. Brinda, Maharani of Kapurthala, Maharani: The story of an Indian princess, as told to Elaine Williams (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1953), 26.

67. Brinda, Maharani, 26.

68. Brinda, Maharani, 27.

69. Brinda, Maharani, 28.

70. Brinda, Maharani, 28.

71. MSS Eur D859, BL.

72. Brinda, Maharani, 56.

73. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs of a Rebel Princess (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2004).

74. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs, 34–35.

75. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs, 34–35.

76. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs, 13.

77. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs, 15.

78. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs, 14.

79. Abida Sultaan, Memoirs, 44.

80. Interviews with Princess Abida Sultaan, by Omar Khan, conducted in 1990–91, (accessed March 5, 2017).

81. Abida Sultaan, "The Begums of Bhopal," History Today (Oct 1980): 30–35.

82. Nawab Sultan Jahan Begum, An Account of my Life: Gohur-I-Iqbal, translated by C.H. Payne (London: John Murray, 1912), 132.

83. Nawab Shah Jahan Begum, The Tajul-Ikbal Tarikh Bhopal; or, The History of Bhopal, translated by H.C. Barstow (Calcutta: Thacker, Spink and Co, 1876).

Additional Information

Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.