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Original Letters from India (New York Review Books Classics)by Eliza Fay
Synopses & Reviews
Eliza Fays origins are obscure; she was not beautiful, rich, or outlandishly accomplished. Yet the letters she wrote from her 1779 voyage across the globe captivated E. M. Forster, who arranged for their British publication in 1925. The letters have been delighting readers ever since with their truth-is-stranger-than-fiction twists and turns, their earthy humor, and their depiction of an indomitable woman.
When the intrepid Mrs. Fay departed from Dover more than two hundred years ago, she embarked on a grueling twelve-month journey through much of Europe, up the Nile, over the deserts of Egypt, and finally across the ocean to India. Along the way her party encountered wars, territorial disputes, brigands, and even imprisonment.
Fay was a contemporary of Jane Austen, but her adventures are worthy of a novel by Daniel Defoe. These letters—unfiltered, forthright, and often hilarious—bring the perils and excitements of an earlier age to life.
Book News Annotation:
Fay (1756-1816) contributed to what had already become the distinct genre of British letters home from the far corners of empire, by writing and preparing for publication 23 letters she wrote her family from Calcutta between April 1779 and February 1783, and perhaps fictive letters written at home in Blackheath that comprise an autobiography. They were published posthumously in an incomplete edition in Calcutta in 1817, and have been completed and reprinted often since then, often, as here, with annotations. Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
Little is known about Eliza Fay (1756–1816); even her maiden name is a mystery. She is thought to have been born in Blackheath, England and her father may have been a sailor. It is possible that she trained as a dressmaker. She married an Irish attorney with whom she traveled to India, but separated from him a few years after their arrival in Calcutta and returned to England. She made several more trips to India, where she engaged in ruinous business and importing schemes, including one that brought her to New York. She died at the age of sixty, penniless, in Calcutta.
E. M. Forster (1879–1970) was a novelist, short-story writer, and critic. His most famous works include Howards End, A Passage to India, and A Room with a View.
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