This book situates women at the centre of the practices and policies of British imperialism. Rebutting interpretations that have marginalised women in the empire, the book demonstrates that women were crucial to establishing and sustaining the British Raj in India from the 'High Noon' of imperialism in the late nineteenth century through to Indian independence in 1947. Using three separate modes of engagement with imperialism: domesticity, violence and race, it demonstrates the varied ways in which British women, particularly the wives of imperial officials, created a role for themselves. From the late nineteenth century, Anglo-Indians constructed an idea of family and marriage that was, both literally and metaphorically, the foundation for British imperialism in India. Although imperial marriage was very modern in its emphasis on companionship and partnership, it also incorporated more traditional ideas about husbands, wives and families. The politicized imperial home stood in sharp contrast to the ideal of middle-class British domesticity that had developed from the late-eighteenth century onwards in the metropole. Relationships with Indian servants, created and maintained primarily by women, were a complex mixture of intimacy and trust counterbalanced by feelings of fear and suspicion. For Anglo-Indians, the Mutiny served as a constant reminder of the tenuous nature of imperialism in India. The relationship between Anglo-Indian and Indian women was complex coloured by expectations about femininity and women's role in the empire. Indian men may have derided Anglo-Indian women as 'brainless memsahibs', but the British government similarly scorned their contribution to empire.
united men and women in an imperial marital partnership centered on
governing the Raj.
Although imperialmarriage was very modern in its
emphasis on companionship and partnership, it also incorporated more
traditional ideas about husbands, wives and families. Anglo-Indian
husbands and wives had much in common with their ideological
ancestors in the great landed families of Britain
‘contract’) to denote the agreement whereby Erling of
Norway became Valdemar’s man (‘miles regis’), and
in the narrative of Arnold of Lübeck, the ill-fated
Dano-imperialmarriage agreement of the 1180s is described with the
same word. 77
Furthermore, it is evident that some treaties fall into more than
one of these two categories of peace and friendship. For example
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 301, who cites
Blunt's letter to The Times (10 Sept. 1898) & Hugh
Mirabel Cecil, ImperialMarriage: An Edwardian War and peace
(London: John Murray, 2002 ), p. 90.
Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, Secret History of the
Hugh and Mirabel Cecil, ImperialMarriage: An
Edwardian War and Peace (London: John Murray, 2002), p.
Lord Edward Cecil, The Leisure of an Egyptian
Official (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1921), p. 92.
Britomart’s androgynous feats reveal the power
of chastely controlled will and passion. By shifting from royal
Elizabeth to warrior Britomart (an archaic ur-Elizabeth), Book 3
shows Elizabeth’s prowess as an active quest with an inner
development that adds remarkable psychological depth to the
allegory. Britomart’s passional power seeks an imperialmarriage with a Just Man, though