Reference > Cambridge History > The Victorian Age, Part Two > Anglo-Indian Literature > William Browne Hockley; Philip Meadows Taylor; The mutiny
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

X. Anglo-Indian Literature.

§ 2. William Browne Hockley; Philip Meadows Taylor; The mutiny.


During this period, fiction established itself as one of the most vigorous branches of Anglo-Indian literature. William Browne Hockley made use of his undoubted genius for story-telling in producing tales based on his intimate knowledge of Indian life. Pandurang Hari, or Memoirs of a Hindoo, a lifelike picture of Maratha character with excessive emphasis on its darker side, appeared in 1826. Tales of the Zenana, or a Nawab’s Leisure Hours was Hockley’s best book. It is a sort of Anglo-Indian Arabian Nights, filled with wit and liveliness. Hockley undoubtedly possessed narrative genius. He was unrivalled in the sphere of Anglo-Indian fiction, until Philip Meadows Taylor, novelist and historian, began his literary career in 1839 with The Confessions of a Thug, a gruesome presentation of those facts which Sir William Henry Sleeman embodied in official reports. His next production was Tippoo Sultan, a tale of the Mysore war, in 1840. Taylor’s reputation, however, rests mainly on stories which he wrote after he retired in 1860, especially the trilogy Tara, a Maratta Tale, Ralph Darnell and Seeta. The three tales were connected by a curious link: the year 1657 was that of the triumph of the Maratha chieftain Sivagi over the Bijapur army, which laid the foundation of his people’s power in India; the year 1757 saw a greater power than that of the Marathas arise at Plassey; 1857 was the year of the mutiny. These three events, occurring at intervals of one hundred years, supplied the central themes of the three tales. Taylor contrasts with Hockley as one who idealised, rather than delineated, his types.   13
  The tendency of Anglo-Indian fiction, however, to turn away from the portrayal of Indian life and focus itself chiefly upon the life of the English in India, was well illustrated by Oakfield: or Fellowship in the East, by William Delafield Arnold, brother of Matthew Arnold. It was a book with a purpose; throughout its pages there breathed stern moral protest against the dissipation of the Anglo-Indian community and its disregard, as he conceived it, of the interests of the children of the soil. England has given to India few minds of more refined and sensitive texture than that of W. D. Arnold.   14

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