DEEPER THAN INDIGO: Travels in search of Thomas Machell

Presented by Dr Jenny Balfour-Paul

Hon. Research Fellow, IAIS, Exeter University
Fellow, Royal Geographical Society and Explorers Club
President, The Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers

Machell of Crackenthorpe, born in 1824, left the family rectory in northern England at sixteen to follow his dream of travelling to the East. He witnessed many important historical events, including the infamous ‘First Opium War’ and the ‘Indian Mutiny’ and spent most of his working life in India. Machell also travelled up the Indus River to the North West Frontier and undertook an extraordinary voyage by dhows and by camel, joining Muslim merchants trading between the Bay of Bengal and Egypt.

When Balfour-Paul chanced upon Machell’s illustrated Journals, now in the British Library, she recognised parallels with her own career and journeys. This talk relates how the she tracked Machell (and sometimes her younger self too) to indigo and coffee plantations of rural Bengal and Kerala’s Malabar Hills, to little known regions of central India, to Calcutta, heart of the British Empire, and to southern China. She also voyaged aboard the last freighter to take passengers from UK to India via the Suez Canal and Red Sea, facing the same threat of pirate attack as Machell, and followed in his wake by cargo ship to the extraordinary Polynesian Islands of the Marquesas.

Her remarkable tale of East-West connections brings to life, with colourful illustrations, the untold story of a spirited outsider at the height of the British Raj.

24 June 2015

Where: The Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1

Commences at 1.15pm

A Sandwich lunch with wine and/or soft drinks is available from 12.30pm but must be booked in advance by the previous day. £10 with wine or £7 with soft drink.

Tickets: Members and their guests only. Free

25 OCT


Report back on the Society Tour to Jordan

Where: 7.00 pm start at Royal Asiatic Society, 14 Stephenson Way, London NW1 - between Euston Station and Euston Square tube.

Tickets: Members and their guests only

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