Spanning three continents, and the period from the 1880s to World War I, when Britain was at the height of its power and influence, this unusual family memoir offers a memorable glimpse of late imperial life and provides a fascinating record of the intersection of the lives of a single British family with the drama of world affairs. Drawing on an outstanding collection of over 800 original letters exchanged between six siblings and their parents, the eminent historian F.R.H. Du Boulay has brilliantly reconstructed the world of his father's generation. This book offers a compelling portrait of a Victorian family and casts fresh light on the daily lives of the British who chose to make their lives abroad as part of the fabric of the Empire. Noel, the eldest of the letter-writers, forged an exciting and successful military career and in an early posting was with the force endeavouring to relieve Gordon at Khartoum. As a staff officer he served as a military attach with the Japanese army during the Sino-Japanese war and later was Commandant of the Summer Palace in Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. By World War I he was a Brigadier-General, organising supplies for the Western Front. His brother James served in the Indian Civil Service and eventually became Secretary to Lord Hardinge, Viceroy at the time of the Delhi Durbar in 1911, where he was knighted. Dick and Mary, joined for a while by Philip and Phyllis, headed for southern Africa, Dick ran an Ostrich farm in the Transvaal while Mary became a teacher and later Inspector of Schools in South Africa. Philip, the author's father, worked mainly in Alexandria but this was interrupted by war service in Gallipoli and then in the desert, building the railway that enabled Field Marshal Allenby to win Jerusalem in 1917. Their engaging letters reveal the lives of an extraordinary family: educated and trusted servants of empire, who played an instrumental part in the day-to-day imperial administration. Servants of Empire brilliantly sets domestic concerns alongside life-changing world events to produce an appealing blend of the homely and the exotic.
Servants of Empire
An Imperial Memoir of a British Family