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An Indian insight into Victorian England published by Wigan Archives Service
7:40am Sunday 17th March 2013 in News
THE diary detailing the remarkable exploits of a man who arrived in Victorian England after boarding a steam ship in India has been published by Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust archives service.
In the mid 1800s Kasturi Venkataramayya, an educated and articulate young Indian man, set sail from Madras.
He is to stay with a well-to-do family in London and has ambitions to study for the bar at one of the city's famous Inns of Court.
It's a journey that takes in ancient Alexandria and the Suez Canal before arriving in a city that at the time was the centre of the world.
This is Kastu's story, recounted in his own words through his diary - a series of letters home to his brother in Southern India.
The Diary of An Indian in Victorian England, published for the first time by WLCT, provides a fascinating insight into life in Victorian London through the eyes of an outsider.
But this remarkable tale may have remained untold but for the devotion avid diary collector Edward Hall and the diligent work of archives volunteer Carl Towers and borough archivist Alex Miller.
Alex explained: “Edward Hall was a remarkable man in his own right. He was born in 1880s and lived until the 1980s. He served in the RAF in both world wars and commanded one of the last Hurricane squadrons.
“Edward's real passion was for social history. He collected more than 250 diaries. They encapsulate the lives of everyone from colliery workers to the landed gentry.”
He married a local girl and donated his collection to the borough archives.
Now Alex, Carl and a handful of other volunteers have set about bringing as many of the diaries to a contemporary audience as possible by lovingly transcribing them from the handwritten originals and having them published in book form.
“We decided to do Kasturi's diary first because it was such an unusual story,” said Alex.
“No-one knows what became of Kasturi,” said Alex. “Everything he mentions in his diaries is historically accurate but we can find no trace of him in London or India after 1860. Maybe the publication of his diary will help shed more light on his life.”