Sunday, May 17, 1936
FANNY PARKES OF CAWNPORE
“A PILGRIM IN SEARCH OF THE PICTURESQUE”
On April 22, Mr. Frank Mudie the retiring Collector of Cawnpore, unveiled at the “Collector’s House”, a brass tablet commemorating the residence there of Fanny Parkes, whose husband, during the period April 1830 – Feb. 1831, was acting Collector of Customs at Cawnpore.
Few of the present generation have heard of Fanny Parkes and it is interesting to note that after a lapse of over 100 years, it was only last year that the fact that she lived in the “Collector’s House” was brought to light by a Cawnpore resident, A.Grezo, who, reading that fascinating and very scarce book “Wanderings of a Pilgrim in search of the Picturesque” suddenly realized that Fanny Parkes description of her Bungalow applied exactly to the “Collector’s House”.
Fanny Parkes was a lady of exceptional personality, cultured, observant and enterprising, who could wield a very facile pen. To her, we owe the best and most fascinating account we possess of Indian life in the early part of the last century. She was the daughter of Major E.C. Archer, A.D.C. to Lord Combermere and may have inherited her literary taste from her father who wrote a book “Tours in Upper India” published in 1833. Fanny Parkes came out to India in 1822 and left the Country finally in 1845. In 1850, her two bulky volumes of the “Wanderings of a Pilgrim in search of the Picturesque” appeared in London.
Douglas Dewar thus describes the lady in his charming book “Bygone days in India”.
“Mrs. Fanny Parkes came out to India in 1822 as the wife of an Indian Civilian going out to India to join the Company’s Service. She resided in the Country for more than 20 years, spending the greater part of that period at Allahabad and Cawnpore. During the whole of her stay in India she kept a journal. Upon this is based her “Wanderings of a Pilgrim in search of the Picturesque”. This consists of two bulky volumes and was published in 1850.
In 1833 she visited Mussoorie. Her book is an Anglo-Indian classic. It contains a great detail more than notes on current events and descriptions of the social life of the English in India. In it there are chapters dealing with thuggee and the Hindu and Muhammadan religions. She discourses on such multifarious subjects as the Gardner family, life in the Zenana and the useful plants of India. Everyone, who reads her book is captivated by it and like Sleeman’s “Rambles and Recollections” it has become a classic”.