KIEF HILLSBERY    Book Number: 85885    Product format: Hardback

Sub-titled 'A Journey to the Other Side of British India', in this page-turning addition to the literature of the Great Game, the author sets out to discover the riddle of his ancestor Nigel Halleck, a clerk in the East India Company who went out in 1841 and disappeared eight years later. It was known that Nigel left the company under a cloud - but in what circumstances? Was he a jewel thief, a spy? Letters from the 1840s and 50s were mostly lost in the Coventry blitz, but the author got a lead when a Japanese researcher mentioned a memorial to an Englishman in Namobuddha in Nepal. Hillsbery slowly discovers that Nigel fell in with enlightened liberal cadre of officials, then turned his back on them to live closely with a local prince, Sa'adat. Arriving in Calcutta Nigel set about the usual East India Company pattern of life, hiring a munshi, and hunting big game. In Bengal he was shocked by the fact that the British had exploited the peasants to support the Lancashire cotton trade. Finally in Patna he turned his back on the colonial élite and in 1849, after the Anglo-Sikh war, Nigel set out with his Afghan friend Sa'adat for Kathmandu. A possible inference is that this was a homosexual relationship, particularly as Nigel visited the Egyptian desert settlement of Siwa on the route out, where male-only marriage ceremonies were known to take place. It looks like a very personal story but there is still a question in the author's mind. Was Nigel a player in the Great Game, working as a secret agent for Jang Bahadur, the mid-century ruler of Nepal? Impossible to be certain. 259pp.
Published price: £18.99
Bibliophile price: £3.00

Additional product information

ISBN 9781786071590
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