Study of the works of Philip Meadows Taylor
This thesis deals with the works of Philip Meadows Taylor, nineteenth-century British administrator and author of six novels on Indian themes. His works, published between 1839 and 1878, belong to the little researched early period of Anglo-Indian literature when popular fiction reflected the confidence and beliefs of British rule in India. Meadows Taylor worked in India as a political agent in various parts of Hyderabad from 1824 until his early retirement in 1860. His work, his close friendships with Indians, and his marriage to an Eurasian woman exposed him to various aspects of Indian life closed to many of his British contemporaries in India. This is reflected in his novels, of which the best known is his first, Confessions of a Thug, published in 1839. Subsequent works include Tippoo Sultaun: A Tale of the Mysore War (1841), Tara (1863), Ralph Darnell (1865), Seeta (1873), and A Noble Queen (1878). All these works present Indian scenery and Indian customs vividly and sympathetically, and are characterised by unusually liberal views on such things as interracial marriage, race relations and Indian religious practices; views at odds with those of many of his contemporaries. This thesis examines Meadows Taylor's works, and the connection between his portrayal of British conceptions of India and its people and the historical development of British rule in India. Ultimately Taylor's works illustrate his view that underneath the surface differences of race and religious creed lies a common human experience shared by both East and West, a view which differentiates him from other nineteenth-century writers on India. Other unusual thematic concerns include his use of Victorian concepts of domesticity in Indian settings, his presentation of strongly idealised Indian characters, and his frequent use as subject matter of "pre-colonial" Indian history.