Hartly House, Calcutta

Phebe Gibbes

Edited by Michael J. Franklin

Hartly House, Calcutta


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3437-0
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £14.99
  • Published Date: February 2019
  • BIC Category: c 1780 to c 1789, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century, LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literature: history & criticism, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1800 to c 1900, Literature, Orientalism, Kolkata, Epistolary fiction, Colonialism & imperialism


This novel is a designedly political document. Written at the time of the Hastings impeachment and set in the period of Hastings's Orientalist government, Hartly House, Calcutta (1789) represents a dramatic delineation of the Anglo-Indian encounter. The novel constitutes a significant intervention in the contemporary debate concerning the nature of Hastings's rule of India by demonstrating that it was characterised by an atmosphere of intellectual sympathy and racial tolerance. Within a few decades the Evangelical and Anglicising lobbies frequently condemned Brahmans as devious beneficiaries of a parasitic priestcraft, but Phebe Gibbes's portrayal of Sophia's Brahman and the religion he espouses represent a perception of India dignified by a sympathetic and tolerant attempt to dispel prejudice.


'An entertaining account of Calcutta . These letters indeed are written with a degree of vivacity which renders them very amusing'
Mary Wollstonecraft

'one of the earliest British novels of India of a transcultural love affair between the heroine Sophia Goldborne and a young Brahman. Although positively reviewed by Mary Wollstonecraft, as "an animated picture of Eastern manners", it soon vanished from literary history; only recently has it begun to arouse the interest of students of 18th-century colonial literature . Michael Franklin has done a splendid job editing the novel, with a full introductory essay and explanatory notes, thereby making it available to researchers, students, and the general reader. The republication of Hartly House, Calcutta will add a new dimension to our understanding of 18th-century literature and early British India.'
Nigel Leask, Regius Professor of English, University of Glasgow

'The explanatory notes and introduction are both valuable for contextualizing the novel for casual readers, as well as providing pedagogical resources for classroom use.'
The Early Modern Women Journal


Note on the Text
Volume I
Volume II
Volume III
Explanatory Notes
Select Bibliography


Michael J. Franklin is Professor of English in Swansea University, and has published widely upon representations of India

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