Exhibition showcases fascinating relationship between India and Britain between 17th and 20th centuries

An exhibition running at our University traces the history of the British in India from the early 17th century to the turn of the 20th.

The exhibition, which runs until 30 September and is titled ‘Strangers in the Land – Impressions of India’, uses rare books and materials from the Special Collections archives to explore the ‘fascinating relationship’ between the two nations across the ages.

Among the materials on display in the exhibition is an account of Sir Thomas Herbert which was first published in 1634, who travelled to Persia and India as a member of Charles I’s embassy to Shah Abbas I. In the text, which is full of interesting details and illustrated with engravings, he describes the richness of India, suggesting that it ‘equals, if not exceeds any other Kingdom’.

A beautiful folder of rare maps, a survey of rail and canal links in India, dated from 1901 from the Transport History Collection, presents a topographical view of the country – it is marked ‘H.E. The Viceroy’s Copy’ and was therefore presumably used by Lord Curzon, Viceroy from 1899 to 1905.

The exhibition also uses rare books from Library collections to look at the impact of the Indian Rebellion of 1857.

Margaret Maclean from the University of Leicester Special Collections, who organised the exhibition, said: “The exhibition displays a variety of 17th-19th century publications, which deserve to be seen and appreciated not only as beautiful objects, but also for the insight they provide into a complex and fascinating relationship.

“I couldn’t help but be struck by the wealth of material in the Special Collections, which throws light on the history of the British in India, much of it lavishly illustrated."

The exhibition runs from 8 June until 30 September 2016 in the basement of the David Wilson Library, and may be viewed during the Library's staffed opening hours.

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