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Women of the Raj

The Mothers, Wives and Daughters of the British Empire in India

Margaret MacMillan


A vivid cultural and social history of the daughters, sisters, mothers and wives of the men at the centre of the Raj, by the distinguished historian and Reith Lecturer 2018 Margaret MacMillan

Also available as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon


The apparent glamour of the Indian Raj continues to fascinate long after the British quit the subcontinent. But along with the beauty of the Indian landscape and the privilege of servants and holidays in hill stations, British women in that vanished world faced challenges and fears that came from being an alien ruling minority. These women were at the heart of the imperial enterprise. It was their role to support the men’s work, raise the children and attempt to replicate British society thousands of miles from home. They struggled in the face of heat, illness, loneliness and boredom as well as different customs, languages and religions. The distinguished historian and bestselling author Margaret MacMillan, drawing on letters and memoirs, novels and interviews, brings vividly to life their experiences – humdrum, extraordinary, light-hearted, tragic – through the century of the Raj, from the 1850s to Indian independence in 1947.


'MacMillan has that essential quality of the historian, a narrative gift'
Daily Telegraph

'A clear-eyed, affectionate account'
Mail on Sunday

'Well researched and thoroughly enjoyable'
Evening Standard

'As fascinating as it is unsparing … an engaging read that brings to life an under-explored side of colonial history'
The Lady

'A unique, interesting and very niche non-fiction read. It’s great to see a book focusing on women’s experiences'
Of Beauty and Nothingness

'Immensely readable'
Mature Times

'A vivid cultural and social history [that] reveals India in all its richness and vitality'
Antiques Diary

'Women of the Raj has a vitality and an unbiased view that will engage readers today'
Times Literary Supplement

'A testament both to the popularity of the subject, and the skilful way in which the author has handled it'
Victorian Web

'Insightful … takes us behind the gloss to reveal the real lives of women'
Shrabani Basu, BBC History

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: New Edition

Size: 19.8 x 12.9 cm

Extent: 320 pp

Illustrations: 56

Publication date: 25 January 2018

ISBN: 9780500293744

Contents List

Preface to the New Edition • Introduction • 1. The Voyage Out • 2. First Impressions • 3. The Society of the Exiles • 4. The Land of Exile • 5. Facts of Life • 6. Women in Danger • 7. Courtship and Marriage • 8. Children: Outposts of Empire • 9. Housekeeping • 10. Social Life and Amusements • 11. On Holiday • 12. Unconventional Women

About the Author

Margaret MacMillan is Professor of History at the University of Toronto. Her books include The War that Ended Peace and Peacemakers, which won the Samuel Johnson Prize, the PEN Hessell-Tiltman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize, and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice.

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