Douglas Keen : The Publisher Who Revolutionised Children’s Books With The Ladybird Series.

Douglas Keen, the driving spirit behind Ladybird Books, was a publishing v0isionary and an inspired businessman. In the years following the Second World War, under his editorial direction, the series of children’s books became a household name. The Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme alone sold 85 million copies, making Keen an important figure in promoting children’s literacy.

Keen was born in Cheltenham in 1913. His father was a market gardener who left the family while his son was still a small boy and Douglas’s mother then worked as a home-based dressmaker to support them. For the rest of his life, Keen valued education as a way out of poverty. He won a scholarship to Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham, and went on to study commercial art at evening classes. This led to a job in advertising as a sign-writer.

In 1936, at the age of 23, Keen moved to Wills & Hepworth, a printing firm based in Loughborough that produced catalogues in the West Midlands and whose clients included the car manufacturers Austin and Rover. It also published a small stock of children’s books; they were printed on cheap paper and were produced mainly to use up “machine time” between larger commercial commissions.

In 1940 Keen was called up to the RAF. He worked with a mobile radar unit throughout the war. In 1946, he returned to work for Wills & Hepworth, in the firm’s Birmingham office. From 1941, the firm had begun to experiment with children’s fiction and picture books in a small format that was easy for young readers to manage on their own. But these early “Ladybirds”, cheaply printed on one sheet of paper, were operating in a market that had never been properly analysed. Keen visited shops and schools over a wide area and concluded that while books to be read for pleasure always aimed to look as attractive as possible, educational books, with their soft covers and dreary two-colour line illustrations, lagged behind.

And so it was that Keen hit upon the idea of producing short, lavishly illustrated, properly researched, hard-cover factual books on approachable subjects, small enough to fit into a child’s Christmas stocking. Unable to convince his managers, he went ahead with his own mock-up of British Birds and their Nests to demonstrate what he had in mind. He wrote the text and the book was illustrated with water-colours by his mother-in-law, a trained artist, and drawings by his wife, Margaret, whom he had married in 1941.

The prototype won over Wills & Hepworth’s chairman, Jim Clegg, and Keen was given the go-ahead for the book. He commissioned Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald to provide the text and Allen Seaby the pictures. The result was a 52-page book with 24 full-page colour illustrations; its cover showed a kingfisher in full plumage perched on a branch. The final version of British Birds and their Nests appeared in 1953 and sales were excellent; a second print-run of 50,000 followed almost immediately and the great days of Ladybird Books had arrived.

More nature books were published under Keen’s direction. Each then, and for the next 30 years, cost only 2/6p. All had coloured hard covers and full-page illustrations by leading wildlife artists including C.F. Tunnicliffe, Rowland Hilder and John Leigh-Pemberton. But the books developed in other directions, too, and eventually the 300-odd titles included the “People at Work” series, illustrated by John Berry, and the “Junior Science” series, illustrated by Harry Wingfield, an artist who had formerly worked on the Eagle comic, along with Frank Hampson, another of Keen’s signings.

The books all featured clear technical drawings and human-interest pictures in which characters appeared, often in a state of eye-popping excitement at what they were seeing. Wingfield, who became Keen’s chief illustrator, was responsible for 65 titles and also worked on books for younger children, including Shopping with Mother and an ABC. His pictures of affectionate parents, beaming children and courteous tradesmen, all living in pristine middle-class environments, are collectors’ items, sometimes selling for as much as £1,500.

Wingfield also illustrated the Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme. This was prompted by an article in The Teacher by William Murray, an educationist who was convinced that early reading material should concentrate on the 100 most common words in the English language. Keen commissioned Murray to write 36 texts devised according to his theories.

Published in 1964, the books were accompanied by illustrations featuring Peter and Jane, the permanently smiling junior inhabitants of an idealised suburbia. Wingfield’s tree-lined streets continued to feature cheery milkmen and kindly policemen as a backdrop to a cosy domestic life made possible by the presence of a smartly dressed young mother, contentedly at home with her children, with an equally jovial daddy coming back from work at six o’clock. The books were a huge success and led to Keen being invited to join Wills & Hepworth’s board of directors.

From then on the Ladybird brand was unassailable. One title, The Computer, was used by the Ministry of Defence to introduce its employees to higher technology. The same organisation later bought multiple copies of Understanding Maps to provide help with orienteering for the British Army during the Falklands War.

How it Works – The Motor Car was acquired in large quantities by the Thames Valley police force, again for internal consumption. Other titles on subjects such as gas or the water supply, in “The Public Services” series, were made interesting by a mixture of historical background and details on how each service worked at present. Dramatic accompanying pictures by John Berry were, like many other Ladybird illustrations, often copied directly from photographs.

Keen worked mainly from home in an extension added to the back of his purpose-built house in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where he and a part-time secretary for some time constituted the entirety of the Ladybird editorial department. With his wife Margaret, who regularly corrected the proofs and with whom he enjoyed a supremely happy marriage, he established a warm atmosphere much appreciated by the artists he commissioned, who often became personal friends and occasional holiday companions. Meetings held at his home invariably included lunch supplied by Margaret and would finish with a visit to the local pub, along with attendant sub-editors and the studio manager.

In 1973, when sales of Ladybird Books had reached around 20 million copies a year, Wills & Hepworth was taken over by Longman Pearson. Keen left the company and found himself out of sympathy with editorial changes that then took place.

The books lost their distinctive typography and illustrative style, and Peter and Jane were re-invented in jeans and sweatshirts, but Keen dissociated himself from all such re-branding. Living quietly at home, with easy access first to five grandchildren and then to two great-grandchildren, Keen remained a much-loved figure both within his own family and among those with whom he had worked so successfully over many years.


Eliza Acton ‘The Real Mrs Beeton’

Elizabeth “Eliza” Acton (17 April 1799 – 13 February 1859) was an English cook and poet, who produced one of the country’s first cookbooks aimed at the domestic reader, rather than professional cooks or chefs: Modern Cookery for Private Families. This introduced the now-universal practice of listing ingredients and giving suggested cooking times with each recipe. It included the first recipe for Brussels sprouts. Isabella Beeton’s bestselling Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) was closely modelled on it. Delia Smith is quoted as calling Acton “the best writer of recipes in the English language”. Modern Cookery long survived her, remaining in print until 1914.


Acton was born in Battle, Sussex in 1799, the eldest of the five children of Elizabeth Mercer and John Acton, a brewer. The family returned to Suffolk shortly after her birth, and Eliza was raised there. When she was seventeen, she co-founded a girls’ school with a Miss Nicholson in Claydon, near Ipswich. This remained open for four years, until Eliza Acton left due to poor health. She spent some time in France after this.

After returning to England, her first collection of Poems was published in 1826, mostly on the theme of unrequited love. The book was moderately successful, and was reprinted a few weeks after its first issue. She subsequently wrote some standalone, longer poems, including “The Chronicles of Castel Framlingham”, which was printed in the Sudbury Chronicle in 1838, and “The Voice of the North”, which was written in 1842 on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s first visit to Scotland.

Acton’s best-known work Modern Cookery for Private Families was first published in 1845. It was the result of several years of research, undertaken at the prompting of Longman, who had published her Poems. Many of the recipes came from her friends. Modern Cookery quickly became a very popular work, appearing in several editions and remaining a standard cookery book throughout the rest of the century. The book was immensely influential, establishing the format for modern cookbook writing, by listing the exact ingredients required for each recipe, the time needed, and potential problems that might arise. This was a novel departure from previous cookbooks, which were less precise.

Shortly after the publication of Modern Cookery, Acton relocated to Hampstead, London, where she worked on her next and final book, The English Bread Book (1857). Alongside recipes, this contained a scholarly history of bread-making, which included Acton’s strong opinions on some contemporary baking practices. This work was significantly less successful than Modern Cookery, and was only reprinted in 1990.

Acton, who suffered from poor health for much of her life, died in 1859, at the age of 59. She was buried in Hampstead.


•                Poems (London: Longmans, 1826)

•                “The Chronicles of Castel Framlingham” (poem, was in the movie Sudbury Chronicle, 1838)

•                “The Voice of the North” (commemorative poem about the first visit of Queen Victoria to Scotland in 1842)

•                Modern Cookery for Private Families (London: Longmans, 1845)

The English Bread Book (1857)


Jane Grigson

Jane Grigson (née McIntire, 13 March 1928 – 12 March 1990) was an English cookery writer.

She was a long-time food columnist with The Observer, and won awards for her cookery books including Vegetable Book (1978) and Fruit Book (1982). She was made Cookery Writer of the Year in 1977 for her book English Food.

Life and writings

Heather Jane Mabel McIntire (later Jane Grigson) was born in Gloucester, Gloucestershire, and brought up in Sunderland, County Durham, where her father George Shipley McIntire was Town Clerk. She attended Sunderland Church High School and Casterton School, Casterton, Westmorland, then went on to Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English. On graduating from university in 1949, she spent three months in Florence, Italy. After working in art galleries, she went into publishing, joining George Rainbird’s company in 1953 as a picture researcher for the encyclopedic People, Places, Things and Ideas. The editor of the book was poet and critic Geoffrey Grigson (1905–85), whom she later married, becoming his third wife. Grigson subsequently worked as a translator, winning the John Florio prize in 1966 for her work with Father Kenelm Foster on the translation of Cesare Beccaria’s On Crimes and Punishments (1966).

Grigson’s growing interest in food and cooking led to the writing of her first book, Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery (1967), which was accorded the unusual honour for an English food writer of being translated into French. Elizabeth David read the book and was impressed by it, and recommended Grigson as a food columnist for The Observer, for whom she wrote a column from 1968 until her death in 1990. Her long-lasting association with the newspaper produced some of her most successful books, such as Good Things (1971) and Food With the Famous (1979). In 1973, Fish Cookery was published, followed by The Mushroom Feast (1975), a collection of recipes for cultivated, woodland, field and dried mushrooms. She received both the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award and the André Simon Memorial Fund Book Award for her Vegetable Book (1978) and for her Fruit Book (1982), and was voted Cookery Writer of the Year in 1977 for English Food.

Grigson died in Broad Town, Wiltshire, on the eve of her 62nd birthday. Her daughter Sophie Grigson (born 1959) is also a cookery writer and broadcaster.

Writing style

In her obituary for The Independent, Alan Davidson wrote:

Jane Grigson left to the English-speaking world a legacy of fine writing on food and cookery for which no exact parallel exists…. She won to herself this wide audience because she was above all a friendly writer… a most companionable presence in the kitchen; often catching the imagination with a deftly chosen fragment of history or poetry, but never failing to explain the “why” as well as the “how” of cookery.

Like her contemporary Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson’s books are known for their witty and sometimes extensive digressions on the history of ingredients and recipes. For example, the introduction to the chapter on pears in her Fruit Book  contains a description of:

poire d’angoisse, which was originally an instrument of torture (a pear-shaped metal contraption was pushed into people’s mouths and then expanded). Poires d’angoisse were called after this abomination, as they were sharp in the mouth too (hay was put into the cooking water in an attempt to soften the flavour). In the 13th century streets of Paris, sellers went round shouting “poires d’angoisse crier haut” which was I suppose a grim reminder of the connection, “Cry loud the pears of anguish”. The phrase “to swallow the pears of anguish” means to suffer humiliations and distress.

She is also frequently opinionated and acerbic in her opinions about foods she does not like. In her Vegetable Book, she says, for example, of the beetroot:

We do not seem to have had much success with the beetroot in this country. Perhaps this is partly the beetroot’s fault. It is not an inspiring vegetable, unless you have a medieval passion for highly coloured food. With all that purple juice bleeding out at the tiniest opportunity, a cook may reasonably feel that beetroot has taken over the kitchen and is far too bossy a vegetable.

Her books also often frequently contain personal recollections of culinary habits in Northumbria, Wiltshire and Touraine.


The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has created the Jane Grigson Award in her honour.

Her personal collection of books on food and cooking forms the core of the Jane Grigson Library, housed at Oxford Brookes University.

It is alleged that it was Grigson who first popularised the idea that if a mussel’s shell does not open during cooking, it is in some way unhealthy, and should not be eaten. However, this is now held to be a misconception, albeit an extremely popular one: after the idea was published in a book of Grigson’s in the 1970s, it was mentioned in 90% of all cookery books by 1990. It is now thought that the opposite is in fact true, and that if a shell remains closed after the cooking process, a mussel has less chance of being “off” than if it opens.

The Jane Grigson Trust was set up in her memory on 3 April 1991, as an educational charity. In March 2015, in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of her death, the Jane Grigson Trust set up an award for new food writers, the Jane Grigson Trust Award, to be awarded for the first time in March 2016.


•                Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery (Michael Joseph, 1967)

•                Good Things (1971)

•                Fish Cookery (1973)

•                English Food (London: Macmillan, 1974; with illustrations by Gillian Zeiner; an anthology of English and Welsh recipes of all periods chosen by Jane Grigson, for which she was voted Cookery Writer of the Year. A revised and enlarged edition was published in 1979 (ISBN 0 33326866 0), and later editions were issued by Ebury Press with a foreword by Sophie Grigson)

•                The Mushroom Feast: A Celebration of All Edible Fungi With Over 250 Recipes (1975)

•                Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (1978) (for which she received the Glenfiddich Writer of the Year Award)

•                Food with the Famous (1979; Grub Street, 1991; vignettes of 11 historical figures – John Evelyn, Jane Austen, Marcel Proust and others – with recipes for their favourite dishes)

•                Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book (1982) (awarded the André Simon Memorial Fund Book Award)

Other books

•                The Best of Jane Grigson’s British Cookery

•                The Best of Jane Grigson’s Desserts

•                The Best of Jane Grigson’s Soups

•                Book of European Cooking, Jane Grigson’s

•                Cooking Spinach

•                Cooking with Exotic Fruits and Vegetables

•                Dishes From the Mediterranean

•                The Elle Cookbook

•                The Enjoyment of Food (an anthology)

•                The Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy

•                In Celebration of Chives

•                The International Wine and Food Society’s Guide to Fish Cookery

•                The Observer Guide to British Cookery

•                The Observer Guide to European Cookery

•                The World Atlas of Food

•                Preface to An English Flavour by Patricia Hegarty


Flora Annie Steel

Flora Annie Steel (2 April 1847 – 12 April 1929) was an English writer who was noted for writing books set in British India or otherwise connected to it.


Personal life

She was born Flora Annie Webster in Sudbury, Middlesex, the sixth child of George Webster. In 1867, she married Henry William Steel, a member of the Indian Civil Service, and for the next twenty-two years lived in India (until 1889), chiefly in the Punjab, with which most of her books are connected. She grew deeply interested in native Indian life and began to urge educational reforms on the government of India. Mrs Steel became an Inspectress of Government and Aided Schools in the Punjab and also worked with John Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard Kipling’s father, to foster Indian arts and crafts. When her husband’s health was weak, Flora Annie Steel took over some of his responsibilities.

She died at her daughter’s house in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire on 12 April 1929. Her biographers include Violet Powell and Daya Patwardhan.


Flora Annie Steel was interested in relating to all classes of Indian society. The birth of her daughter gave her a chance to interact with local women and learn their language. She encouraged the production of local handicrafts and collected folk-tales, a collection of which she published in 1894.

Her interest in schools and the education of women gave her a special insight into native life and character. A year before leaving India, she coauthored and published The Complete Indian Housekeeper, giving detailed directions to European women on all aspects of household management in India.

In 1889 the family moved back to Scotland, and she continued her writing there. Some of her best work, according to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, is contained in two collections of short stories, From the Five Rivers and Tales of the Punjab.

Her novel On the Face of the Waters (1896) describes incidents in the Indian Mutiny. She also wrote a popular history of India. John F. Riddick describes Steel’s The Hosts of the Lord as one of the “three significant works” produced by Anglo-Indian writers on Indian missionaries, along with The Old Missionary (1895) by William Wilson Hunter and Idolatry (1909) by Alice Perrin. Among her other literary associates in India was Bithia Mary Croker.


•                Wide Awake Stories (1884)

•                From the Five Rivers (1893)

•                Miss Stuart’s Legacy (1893)

•                Tales of the Punjab (1894)

•                The Flower of Forgiveness (1894)

•                The Potter’s Thumb (1894)

•                Red Rowans (1895)

•                On the Face of the Waters (1896)

•                In the Permanent Way, and Other Stories (1897)

•                In the Tideway (1897)

•                The Hosts of the Lord (1900)

•                Voices in the Night (1900)

•                In the Guardianship of God (1903)

•                A Book of Mortals (1905)

•                India (1905)

•                A Sovereign Remedy (1906)

•                A Prince of Dreamers (1908)

•                India through the ages; a popular and picturesque history of Hindustan (1908)

•                King-Errant (1912)

•                The Adventures of Akbar (1913)

•                The Mercy of the Lord (1914)

•                Marmaduke (1917)

•                Mistress of Men (1918)

•                English Fairy Tales (1922)

•                A Tale of Indian Heroes (1923)

•                “Lâl”

•                A Cookery Book

•                Late Tales

•                The Curse of Eve

•                The Gift of the Gods

•                The Law of the Threshold

•                The Woman Question

The Garden Of Fidelity: Being The Autobiography Of Flora Annie Steel 1847–1929[


The Indian Toy Train


The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the “Toy Train”, is a 2 ft (610 mm) narrow gauge railway that runs between New Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling in the Indian state of West Bengal, India. Built between 1879 and 1881, the railway is about 78 kilometres (48 mi) long. Its elevation level varies from about 100 metres (328 ft) at New Jalpaiguri to about 2,200 metres (7,218 ft) at Darjeeling. Four modern diesel locomotives handle most of the scheduled services; however the daily Kurseong-Darjeeling return service and the daily tourist trains from Darjeeling to Ghum (India’s highest railway station) are handled by the vintage British-built B Class steam locomotives. The railway, along with the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the Kalka-Shimla Railway, is listed as the Mountain Railways of India World Heritage Site. The headquarters of the railway is in the town of Kurseong. Operations between Siliguri and Kurseong were temporarily suspended since 2010 following a Landslide at Pagla Jhora and another near Tindharia in 2011. However the normal Toy Train service has resumed between New Jalpaiguri (NJP) and Darjeeling from 2 December 2015


A broad gauge railway connected Calcutta (now Kolkata) and Siliguri in 1878. Siliguri, at the base of the Himalayas, was connected to Darjeeling by a cart road (the present day Hill Cart Road) on which “Tonga services” (carriage services) were available Franklin Prestage, an agent of Eastern Bengal Railway Company approached the government with a proposal of laying a steam tramway from Siliguri to Darjeeling. The proposal was accepted in 1879 following the positive report of a committee formed by Sir Ashley Eden, the Lieutenant Governor of Bengal. Construction started the same year.

Gillanders Arbuthnot & Co. constructed the railway. The stretch from Siliguri to Kurseong was opened on 23 August 1880, while the official opening of the line up to Darjeeling was on 4 July 1881. Several engineering adjustments were made later in order to ease the gradient of the rails. Despite natural calamities, such as an earthquake in 1897 and a major cyclone in 1899, the DHR continued to improve with new extension lines being built in response to growing passenger and freight traffic. However, the DHR started to face competition from bus services that started operating over the Hill Cart Road, offering a shorter journey time. During World War II, the DHR played a vital role transporting military personnel and supplies to the numerous camps around Ghum and Darjeeling.

After the independence of India, the DHR was absorbed into Indian Railways and became a part of the Northeast Frontier Railway zone in 1958. In 1962, the line was realigned at Siliguri and extended by nearly 4 miles (6 km) to New Jalpaiguri (NJP) to meet the new broad gauge line there. DHR remained closed for 18 months during the hostile period of Gorkhaland Movement in 1988-89.

The line closed in 2011 due to a 6.8 Magnitude earthquake. The line is currently loss-making and in 2015, Rajah Banerjee, a local tea estate owner, has called for privatisation to encourage investment, which was fiercely resisted by unions.

World Heritage site

DHR was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, only the second railway to have this honour bestowed upon it, the first one being Semmering Railway of Austria in 1998. To be nominated as World Heritage site on the World Heritage List, the particular site or property needs to fulfill a certain set of criteria, which are expressed in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention and its corresponding Operational Guidelines. The site must be of outstanding universal value and meet at least one out of ten selection criteria. The protection, management, authenticity and integrity of properties are also important considerations.

Criteria for selection

The DHR is justified by the following criteria:

•                Criterion ii The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway is an outstanding example of the influence of an innovative transportation system on the social and economic development of a multi-cultural region, which was to serve as a model for similar developments in many parts of the world.

•                Criterion iv The development of railways in the 19th century had a profound influence on social and economic developments in many parts of the world. This process is illustrated in an exceptional and seminal fashion by the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.

Authenticity and integrity

Since 1881, the original route has been retained in a remarkable condition. Only minimal interventions of an evolutionary nature, such as the reduction of loops, have been carried out. Most of the original steam locomotives are still in use. Like Tea and the Ghurka culture, the DHR has become not only an essential feature of the landscape but also an enduring part of the identity of Darjeeling.

Management and legal status

The DHR and all its movable and immovable assets, including the authentic railway stations, the line, and the track vehicles, belong to the Government of India entrusted to the Ministry of Railways. The Northeast Frontier Railway documented all the elements of the DHR in a comprehensive register. Apart from that, it handles the day-to-day maintenance and management. But moreover, several programs, divisions and departments of the Indian Railways are responsible for operating, maintaining and repairing the DHR. This includes technical as well as non-technical work. In principle, the only two legal protection mechanisms that apply to the conservation of the DHR are the provisions of the 1989 Railway Act and that it is a public property which is state-owned and therefore protected.

The route

UNESCO World Heritage Site

The railway line basically follows the Hill Cart Road which is partially the same as National Highway 55. Usually, the track is simply on the road side. In case of landslides both track and road might be affected. As long parts of the road are flanked with buildings, the railway line often rather resembles urban tramway tracks than an overland line.

To warn residents and car drivers about the approaching train, engines are equipped with very loud horns that even drown horns of Indian trucks and buses. Trains honk almost without pause.

Loops and Z-Reverses (or “zig-zag”s)

One of the main difficulties faced by the DHR was the steepness of the climb. Features called loops and Z-Reverses were designed as an integral part of the system at different points along the route to achieve a comfortable gradient for the stretches in between them. When the train moves forwards, reverses and then moves forward again, climbing a slope each time while doing so, it gains height along the side of the hill.


New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP)

New Jalpaiguri is the railway station which was extended to the south in 1964 to meet the new broad gauge to Assam. Where the two met, New Jalpaiguri was created.

Siliguri Town Station

Siliguri Town was original southern terminus of the line.

Siliguri Junction

Siliguri Junction became a major station only when a new metre-gauge line was built to Assam in the early 1950s

From New Jalpaiguri Junction (NJP) till Siliguri Junction the 1676 mm, 5′ 6” broad gauge line from New Jalpaiguri to Siliguri Junction runs parallel to DHR.

Sukna Station

This station marks the change in the landscape from the flat plains to the wooded lower slopes of the mountains. The gradient of the railway changes dramatically.

Loop 1 (now removed)

Loop No.1 was in the woods above Sukna. It was removed after flood damage in 1991. The site is now lost in the forest.

Rangtong station

A short distance above Rangtong there is a water tank. This was a better position for the tank than in the station, both in terms of water supply and distance between other water tanks.

Loop 2 (now removed)

When Loop 2 was removed in 1942, again following flood damage, a new reverse, No.1, was added, creating the longest reverse run.

Reverse 1

Loop 3

Loop No.3 is at Chunbatti. This is now the lowest loop.

Reverse 2 & 3

Reverses No.2 & 3 are between Chunbatti and Tindharia.

Tindharia Station

This is a major station on the line as below the station is the workshops. There is also an office for the engineers and a large locomotive shed, all on a separate site.

Immediately above the station are three sidings; these were used to inspect the carriage while the locomotive was changed, before the train continued towards Darjeeling.

Loop 4

Agony Point is the name given to loop No.4. It comes from the shape of the loop which comes to an apex which is the tightest curve on the line.


Reverse 6

Reverse No.6 is the last reverse on the climb.

Mahanadi Station

Kurseong Station

There is a shed here and a few sidings adjacent to the main line, but the station proper is a dead end. Up trains must reverse out of the station (across a busy road junction) before they can continue on their climb. It is said that the station was built this way so that the train could enter a secure yard and stay there while the passengers left the train for refreshments.

Above Kurseong station, the railway runs through the bazaar. Trains skirt the front of shops and market stalls on this busy stretch of road.

Tung Station

Sonada Station

Sonada is a small station which serves town of sonada on Darjeeling Himalayan railway. It is on Siliguri – Darjeeling national highway (NH 55).

Rangbul Station

Jorebungalow Station

This is a small location near Darjeeling and a railway station on Darjeeling Himalayan railway. Jorebungalow was store point for tea to Calcutta. This is a strategical place to connect Darjeeling to rest of the country.

Ghum Station

Ghum, summit of the line and highest station in India. Now includes a museum on the first floor of the station building with larger exhibits in the old goods yard. Once this was the railway station at highest altitude overall and is the highest altitude station for narrow gauge railway.

Batasia Loop

The loop is 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Darjeeling, below Ghum. There is also a memorial to the Gorkha soldiers of the Indian Army who sacrificed their lives after the Indian Independence in 1947. From the Batasia Loop one can get a panoramic view of Darjeeling town with the Kanchenjunga and other snowy mountains in the back-drop.

Darjeeling Station

The farthest reach of the line was to Darjeeling Bazaar, a goods-only line and now lost under the road surface and small buildings.



All the steam locomotives currently in use on the railway are of the “B” Class, a design built by Sharp, Stewart and Company and later the North British Locomotive Company, between 1889 and 1925. A total of 34 were built, but by 2005 only 12 remained on the railway and in use (or under repair).

In 2002, No. 787 was rebuilt with oil firing. This was originally installed to work on the same principle as that used on Nilgiri Mountain Railway No.37395. A diesel-powered generator was fitted to operate the oil burner and an electrically-driven feed pump, and a diesel-powered compressor was fitted to power the braking system. Additionally, the locomotive was fitted with a feedwater heater. The overall result was a dramatic change in the appearance of the locomotive. However, the trials of the locomotive were disappointing and it never entered regular service. In early 2011, it was in Tindharia Works awaiting reconversion to coal-firing.

In March 2001, No.794 was transferred to the Matheran Hill Railway to allow a “Joy Train” (steam-hauled tourist train) to be operated on that railway. It did not, however, enter service there until May 2002.


Four diesel locomotives are in use: Nos. 601-2, 604 and 605 of the NDM6 class transferred from the Matheran Hill Railway.


In 1910 the railway purchased the third Garratt locomotive built, a D Class 0-4-0+0-4-0.

Only one DHR steam locomotive has been taken out of India, No.778 (originally No.19). After many years out of use at the Hesston Steam Railway, it was sold to an enthusiast in the UK and restored to working order. It is now based on a private railway (The Beeches Light Railway) in Oxfordshire but has run on the Ffestiniog Railway, the Launceston Steam Railway and the Leighton Buzzard Light Railway.

In popular culture

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway has long been viewed with affection and enthusiasm by travellers to the region and the Earl of Ronaldshay gave the following description of a journey in the early 1920s:

“Siliguri is palpably a place of meeting… The discovery that here the metre gauge system ends and the two foot gauge of the Darjeeling-Himalayan railway begins, confirms what all these things hint at… One steps into a railway carriage which might easily be mistaken for a toy, and the whimsical idea seizes hold of one that one has accidentally stumbled into Lilliput. With a noisy fuss out of all proportion to its size the engine gives a jerk— and starts… No special mechanical device such as a rack is employed— unless, indeed, one can so describe the squat and stolid hill-man who sits perched over the forward buffers of the engine and scatters sand on the rails when the wheels of the engine lose their grip of the metals and race, with the noise of a giant spring running down when the control has been removed. Sometimes we cross our own track after completing the circuit of a cone, at others we zigzag backwards and forwards; but always we climb at a steady gradient— so steady that if one embarks in a trolley at Ghum, the highest point on the line, the initial push supplies all the energy necessary to carry one to the bottom.”

The trip up to Darjeeling on railway has changed little since that time, and continues to delight travellers and rail enthusiasts, so much so that it has its own preservation and support group, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society.

Several films have portrayed the railway. Especially popular was the song Mere sapno ki rani from the film Aradhana where the protagonist Rajesh Khanna tries to woo heroine Sharmila Tagore who was riding in the train. Other notable films include Barfi!, Parineeta and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman. The Darjeeling Limited, a film directed by Wes Anderson, features a trip by three brothers on a fictional long-distance train based very loosely on the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.


The BBC made a series of three documentaries dealing with Indian Hill Railways, shown in February 2010. The first film covers the Darjeeling-Himalayan Railway, the second the Nilgiri Mountain Railway and the third the Kalka-Shimla Railway. The films were directed by Tarun Bhartiya, Hugo Smith and Nick Mattingly and produced by Gerry Troyna. The series won the UK Royal Television Society Award in June 2010. Wes Anderson’s film The Darjeeling Limited also showcases three brothers riding the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway.



Artists: Georgia O’Keefe

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American artist. She is best known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O’Keeffe has been recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”


Early life and education

Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15, 1887 in a farmhouse located at 2405 Hwy T in the town of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Her parents, Francis Calyxtus O’Keeffe and Ida (Totto) O’Keeffe, were dairy farmers. Her father was of Irish descent. Her maternal grandfather George Victor Totto, for whom O’Keeffe was named, was a Hungarian count who came to America in 1848.

O’Keeffe was the second of seven children and the first daughter. She attended Town Hall School in Sun Prairie. By age ten she had decided to become an artist, and she and her sister received art instruction from local watercolorist Sara Mann. O’Keeffe attended high school at Sacred Heart Academy in Madison, Wisconsin as a boarder between 1901 and 1902. In late 1902, the O’Keeffes moved from Wisconsin to the close-knit neighborhood of Peacock Hill in Williamsburg, Virginia. O’Keeffe stayed in Wisconsin with her aunt and attended Madison High School, then joined her family in Virginia in 1903. She completed high school as a boarder at Chatham Episcopal Institute in Virginia (now Chatham Hall) and graduated in 1905. She was a member of the Kappa Delta sorority.

O’Keeffe studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1905 to 1906. In 1907, she attended the Art Students League in New York City, where she studied under William Merritt Chase. In 1908, she won the League’s William Merritt Chase still-life prize for her oil painting Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot. Her prize was a scholarship to attend the League’s outdoor summer school in Lake George, New York. While in the city in 1908, O’Keeffe attended an exhibition of Rodin’s watercolors at the gallery 291, owned by her future husband, photographer Alfred Stieglitz.

O’Keeffe abandoned the idea of pursuing a career as an artist in late 1908, claiming that she could never distinguish herself as an artist within the mimetic tradition which had formed the basis of her art training.[7] She took a job in Chicago as a commercial artist. She did not paint for four years, and said that the smell of turpentine made her sick. She was inspired to paint again in 1912, when she attended a class at the University of Virginia Summer School, where she was introduced to the innovative ideas of Arthur Wesley Dow by Alon Bement. Dow encouraged artists to express themselves using line, color, and shading harmoniously. From 1912-14, she taught art in the public schools in Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle. She attended Teachers College of Columbia University from 1914–15, where she took classes from Dow, who greatly influenced O’Keeffe’s thinking about the process of making art.[7] She served as a teaching assistant to Bement during the summers from 1913–16 and taught at Columbia College, Columbia, South Carolina in late 1915, where she completed a series of highly innovative charcoal abstractions. After further course work at Columbia in early 1916 and summer teaching for Bement, she took a job as head of the art department at West Texas State Normal College from late 1916 to February 1918, the fledgling West Texas A&M University in Canyon just south of Amarillo. While there, she often visited the Palo Duro Canyon, making its forms a subject in her work.


New York

O’Keeffe had made some charcoal drawings in late 1915 which she had mailed from South Carolina to Anita Pollitzer. Pollitzer took them to Alfred Stieglitz at his 291 gallery early in 1916. Stieglitz told Pollitzer that the drawings were the “purest, finest, sincerest things that had entered 291 in a long while”, and that he would like to show them. O’Keeffe had first visited 291 in 1908, but did not speak with Stieglitz then, although she came to have high regard for him and to know him in early 1916, when she was in New York at Teachers College. In April 1916, he exhibited ten of her drawings at 291. O’Keeffe knew that Stieglitz was planning to exhibit her work but he had not told her when, and she was surprised to learn that her work was on view; she confronted Stieglitz over the drawings but agreed to let them remain on exhibit. Stieglitz organized O’Keeffe’s first solo show at 291 in April 1917, which included oil paintings and watercolors completed in Texas.

Stieglitz and O’Keeffe corresponded frequently beginning in 1916 and, in June 1918, she accepted his invitation to move to New York to devote all of her time to her work. The two were deeply in love and, shortly after her arrival, they began living together, even though Stieglitz was married and 23 years her senior. That year, Stieglitz first took O’Keeffe to his family home at the village of Lake George in New York’s Adirondack Mountains, and they spent part of every year there until 1929, when O’Keeffe spent the first of many summers painting in New Mexico. In 1924, Stieglitz’s divorce was approved by a judge and, within four months, he and O’Keeffe married. It was a small, private ceremony at John Marin’s house, and afterward the couple went back home. There was no reception, festivities, or honeymoon. O’Keeffe said later that they married in order to help soothe the troubles of Stieglitz’s daughter Kitty who was being treated in a sanatorium for depression and hallucinations at that time. The marriage did not seem to have any immediate effect on either Stieglitz or O’Keeffe; they both continued working on their individual projects as they had before. For the rest of their lives together, their relationship was, as biographer Benita Eisler characterized it,

a collusion … a system of deals and trade-offs, tacitly agreed to and carried out, for the most part, without the exchange of a word. Preferring avoidance to confrontation on most issues, O’Keeffe was the principal agent of collusion in their union.

Stieglitz started photographing O’Keeffe when she visited him in New York City to see her 1917 exhibition. By 1937, when he retired from photography, he had made more than 350 portraits of her. Most of the more erotic photographs were made in the 1910s and early 1920s. In February 1921, forty-five of Stieglitz’s photographs were exhibited in a retrospective exhibition at the Anderson Galleries, including many of O’Keeffe, some of which depicted her in the nude. It created a public sensation. She once made a remark to Pollitzer about the nude photographs which may be the best indication of O’Keeffe’s ultimate reaction to being their subject: “I felt somehow that the photographs had nothing to do with me personally.” In 1978, she wrote about how distant from them she had become: “When I look over the photographs Stieglitz took of me-some of them more than sixty years ago—I wonder who that person is. It is as if in my one life I have lived many lives. If the person in the photographs were living in this world today, she would be quite a different person—but it doesn’t matter—Stieglitz photographed her then.”

Beginning in 1918, O’Keeffe came to know the many early American modernists who were part of Stieglitz’s circle of artists, including Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Paul Strand, and Edward Steichen. Strand’s photography, as well as that of Stieglitz and his many photographer friends, inspired O’Keeffe’s work. Also around this time, O’Keeffe became sick during the 1918 flu pandemic, like so many others. Soon after 1918, she began working primarily in oil, a shift away from having worked primarily in watercolor in the earlier 1910s. By the mid-1920s, O’Keeffe began making large-scale paintings of natural forms at close range, as if seen through a magnifying lens. In 1924, she painted her first large-scale flower painting Petunia, No. 2, which was first exhibited in 1925. She also completed a significant body of paintings of New York buildings, such as City Night and New York—Night (1926) and Radiator Bldg—Night, New York (1927).

O’Keeffe turned to working more representationally in the 1920s in an effort to move her critics away from Freudian interpretations. Her earlier work had been mostly abstract, but works such as Black Iris III (1926) evoke a veiled representation of female genitalia while also accurately depicting the center of an iris. O’Keeffe consistently denied the validity of Freudian interpretations of her art, but fifty years after it had first been interpreted in that way, many prominent feminist artists assessed her work similarly; Judy Chicago, for example, gave O’Keeffe a prominent place in her The Dinner Party. Although 1970s feminists celebrated O’Keeffe as the originator of “female iconography”, O’Keeffe rejected their celebration of her work and refused to cooperate with any of their projects.

In 1922, the New York Sun published an article quoting O’Keeffe: “It is only by selection, by elimination, and by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things.” Inspired by Precisionism, The Green Apple, completed in 1922, depicts her notion of simple, meaningful life.

Beginning in 1923, Stieglitz organized annual exhibitions of O’Keeffe’s work. By the mid-1920s, O’Keeffe had become known as one of the most important American artists. Her work commanded high prices; in 1928, Stieglitz masterminded a sale of six of her calla lily paintings for US$25,000, which would have been the largest sum ever paid for a group of paintings by a living American artist. Although the sale fell through, Stieglitz’s promotion of it drew extensive media attention.


In 1938, the advertising agency N. W. Ayer & Son approached O’Keeffe about creating two paintings for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (now Dole Food Company) to use in their advertising. Other artists who produced paintings of Hawaii for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company’s advertising include Lloyd Sexton, Jr., Millard Sheets, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Isamu Noguchi, and Miguel Covarrubias. The offer came at a critical time in O’Keeffe’s life: she was 51, and her career seemed to be stalling (critics were calling her focus on New Mexico limited, and branding her desert images “a kind of mass production”). She arrived in Honolulu February 8, 1939 aboard the SS Lurline, and spent nine weeks in Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the island of Hawaii. By far the most productive and vivid period was on Maui, where she was given complete freedom to explore and paint. She painted flowers, landscapes, and traditional Hawaiian fishhooks. Back in New York, O’Keeffe completed a series of 20 sensual, verdant paintings. However, she did not paint the requested pineapple until the Hawaiian Pineapple Company sent a plant to her New York studio.

New Mexico

By 1929, O’Keeffe acted on her increasing need to find a new source of inspiration for her work and to escape summers at Lake George, where she was surrounded by the Stieglitz family and their friends. O’Keeffe had considered finding a studio separate from Lake George in upstate New York and had also thought about spending the summer in Europe, but opted instead to travel to Santa Fe, with her friend Rebecca Strand. The two set out by train in May 1929 and soon after their arrival, Mabel Dodge Luhan moved them to her house in Taos and provided them with studios. O’Keeffe went on many pack trips exploring the rugged mountains and deserts of the region that summer and later visited the nearby D. H. Lawrence Ranch, where she completed her now famous oil painting, The Lawrence Tree, currently owned by the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut.

While in Taos in 1929, O’Keeffe visited and painted the nearby historical San Francisco de Asis Mission Church at Ranchos de Taos. She made several paintings of the church, as had many artists, and her painting of a fragment of it silhouetted against the sky captured it in a different way.

Between 1929 and 1949, O’Keeffe spent part of nearly every year working in New Mexico. She collected rocks and bones from the desert floor and made them and the distinctive architectural and landscape forms of the area subjects in her work. She also went on several camping trips with friends, visiting important sites in the Southwest, and in 1961, she and others, including photographers Eliot Porter and Todd Webb, went on a rafting trip down the Colorado River about Glen Canyon, Utah.

Late in 1932, O’Keeffe suffered a nervous breakdown that was brought on, in part, because she was unable to complete a Radio City Music Hall mural project that had fallen behind schedule. She was hospitalized in early 1933 and did not paint again until January 1934. In early 1933 and 1934, O’Keeffe recuperated in Bermuda, and she returned to New Mexico in mid-1934. In August of that year, she visited Ghost Ranch, north of Abiquiú, for the first time and decided immediately to live there; in 1940, she moved into a house on the ranch property. The varicolored cliffs of Ghost Ranch inspired some of her most famous landscapes. In 1977, O’Keeffe wrote: “[the] cliffs over there are almost painted for you—you think—until you try to paint them.” Among guests to visit her at the ranch over the years were Charles and Anne Lindbergh, singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell, poet Allen Ginsberg, and photographer Ansel Adams.

Known as a loner, O’Keeffe explored the land she loved often in her Ford Model A, which she purchased and learned to drive in 1929. She often talked about her fondness for Ghost Ranch and Northern New Mexico, as in 1943, when she explained: “Such a beautiful, untouched lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the ‘Faraway’. It is a place I have painted before … even now I must do it again.”

In the 1930s and 1940s, O’Keeffe’s reputation and popularity continued to grow, earning her numerous commissions. Her work was included in exhibitions in and around New York. She completed Summer Days, a painting featuring a deer’s skull adorned with various wildflowers, against a desert background in 1936, and it became one of her most famous and well-known works. During the 1940s O’Keeffe had two one-woman retrospectives, the first at the Art Institute of Chicago (1943), and the second in 1946 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in Manhattan, the first retrospective MoMA held for a woman artist. O’Keeffe enjoyed many accolades and honorary degrees from numerous universities. In the mid-1940s, the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan sponsored a project to establish the first catalogue of her work.

As early as 1936, O’Keeffe developed an intense interest in what is called the “Black Place”, which was about 150 miles west of her Ghost Ranch house, and she made an extensive series of paintings of this site in the 1940s. She traveled and camped there often with her friend, Maria Chabot, and in 1945 with Eliot Porter as well as in subsequent years,1959, and 1977. O’Keeffe said that the Black Place resembled “a mile of elephants with gray hills and white sand at their feet.” At times the wind was so strong when she was painting there that she had trouble keeping her canvas on the easel. When the heat from the sun became intense, she crawled under her car for shade. The Black Place still remains remote and uninhabited.

She also made paintings of the “White Place”, a white rock formation located near her Abiquiú house. In 1945, O’Keeffe bought a second house, an abandoned hacienda in Abiquiú, some 18 miles (26 km) south of Ghost Ranch. The Abiquiú house was renovated through 1949 by Chabot.

Shortly after O’Keeffe arrived for the summer in New Mexico in 1946, Stieglitz suffered a cerebral thrombosis. She immediately flew to New York to be with him. He died on July 13, 1946. She buried his ashes at Lake George. She spent the next three years mostly in New York settling his estate, and moved permanently to New Mexico in 1949. From 1946 through the 1950s, she made the architectural forms of her Abiquiú house—patio wall and door—subjects in her work. Another distinctive painting of the decade was Ladder to the Moon, 1958. From her first world travels in the late 1950s, O’Keeffe produced an extensive series of paintings of clouds, such as Above the Clouds I, 1962/1963. These were inspired by her views from the windows of airplanes. Below is an external link to a color image of one of these aerial cloudscape canvases.

O’Keeffe met photographer Todd Webb in the 1940s, and after his move to New Mexico in 1961, he often made photographs of her, as did numerous other important American photographers, who consistently presented O’Keeffe as a “loner, a severe figure and self-made person.” While O’Keeffe was known to have a “prickly personality”, Webb’s photographs portray her with a kind of “quietness and calm” suggesting a relaxed friendship, and revealing new contours of O’Keeffe’s character.

In late 1970, the Whitney Museum of American Art mounted the Georgia O’Keeffe Retrospective Exhibition, the first retrospective exhibition of her work in New York since 1946, the year Stieglitz died. This exhibit did much to revive her public career.

Later years and death

In 1972, O’Keeffe’s eyesight was compromised by macular degeneration, leading to the loss of central vision and leaving her with only peripheral vision. She stopped oil painting without assistance in 1972, but continued working in pencil and charcoal until 1984. Juan Hamilton, a young potter, appeared at her ranch house in 1973 looking for work. She hired him for a few odd jobs and soon employed him full-time. He became her closest confidant, companion, and business manager until her death. Hamilton taught O’Keeffe to work with clay and, working with assistance, she produced clay pots and a series of works in watercolor. In 1976, she wrote a book about her art and allowed a film to be made about her in 1977.

O’Keeffe became increasingly frail in her late 90s. She moved to Santa Fe in 1984, where she died on March 6, 1986 at the age of 98. In accordance with her wishes, her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered to the wind at the top of Pedernal Mountain, over her beloved “faraway”.


In 1962, O’Keeffe was elected to the fifty-member American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1966, she was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1977, President Gerald R. Ford presented O’Keeffe with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to American civilians. In 1985, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.


Following O’Keeffe’s death, her family contested her will because codicils made to it in the 1980s had left all of her estate to Hamilton. The case was ultimately settled out of court in July 1987. The case became famous as a precedent in estate planning. A substantial part of her estate’s assets were transferred to the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation, which dissolved in 2006, leaving these assets to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, established in Santa Fe in 1995 to perpetuate O’Keeffe’s artistic legacy. These assets included a large body of her work, photographs, archival materials, and her Abiquiú house, library, and property. The Georgia O’Keeffe Home and Studio in Abiquiú was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998 and is now owned by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

In 1991, the PBS aired the American Playhouse production A Marriage: Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, starring Jane Alexander as O’Keeffe and Christopher Plummer as Alfred Stieglitz.

In 1996, the U.S. Postal Service issued a 32 cent stamp honoring O’Keeffe. In 2013, on the 100th anniversary of the Armory Show, the USPS issued a stamp featuring O’Keeffe’s Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico/Out Back of Marie’s II, 1930 as part of their Modern Art in America series.

In 2006, a fossilized species of archosaur was named after O’Keeffe. Blocks originally quarried in 1947 and 1948 near O’Keeffe’s home at Ghost Ranch were opened fifty years after being collected. The fossil strongly resembles ornithomimid dinosaurs, but are actually more closely related to crocodiles. The specimen was named Effigia okeeffeae (“O’Keeffe’s Ghost”) in January 2006, “in honor of Georgia O’Keeffe for her numerous paintings of the badlands at Ghost Ranch and her interest in the Coelophysis Quarry when it was discovered”.

Lifetime Television produced a biopic of Georgia O’Keeffe starring Joan Allen as O’Keeffe, Jeremy Irons as Alfred Stieglitz, Henry Simmons as Jean Toomer, Ed Begley, Jr. as Stieglitz’s brother Lee, and Tyne Daly as Mabel Dodge Luhan. It premiered on September 19, 2009.

On 20 November 2014, O’Keeffe’s 1932 painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 sold for $44,405,000, more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist.

176 Years Of Bourne & Shepherd

Bourne & Shepherd was an Indian photographic studio and one of the oldest established photographic businesses in the world.  Established in 1863, at its peak, it was the most successful commercial firm in 19th-and early 20th-century India, with agencies all over India, and outlets in London and Paris, and also ran a mail order service. A devastating fire in 1991 destroyed much of the studio’s photographic archive and resulted in a severe financial loss to the firm. The long-term impact of the fire, legal difficulties with the Indian government, which owned the studio building, and the increasing dominance of digital technology, finally forced the studio’s closure in June 2016. At its closure, the studio had operated continuously for 176 years.

Though some sources consider its inception to be 1862, when noted British photographers, Charles Shepherd established a photographic studio, with Arthur Robertson, called ‘Shepherd & Robertson’ in Agra, which later moved to Shimla and eventually became the part of ‘Howard, Bourne & Shepherd’, set up by Samuel Bourne, Charles Shepherd, along with William Howard, first established in Shimla around 1863, Howard’s studio in Kolkata dates back to 1840, where it is still operational today, at Esplanade Row, in Esplanade, Kolkata (Calcutta) under the same name. Today some of their earlier work is preserved at Cambridge University Library, the National Portrait Gallery, London, the National Geographic Society’s Image Collection and the Smithsonian Institution.

Samuel Bourne came to India in 1863, and set up a partnership with an established Calcutta photographer, William Howard, and they set up a new studio ‘Howard & Bourne’ at Shimla. William Howard had set up the Calcutta studio in 1840. Meanwhile, Charles Shepherd, had already established a photographic studio, with Arthur Robertson, called ‘Shepherd & Robertson’ in Agra in 1862, and subsequently he too moved to Shimla in 1864. At some point Robertson left the business and Charles Shepherd, joined Bourne company to form ‘Howard, Bourne & Shepherd’. In 1863, he made first of three major Himalayan photographic expeditions, followed by another one 1866, prior to which he took an expedition to Kashmir in 1864, in fact all photographic histories of that era carry his works. He was known to travel heavy, as he moved with a large retinue of 42 coolies carried his cameras, darkroom tent and chests of chemicals and glass plates, he was to become one of India’s greatest photographers of that era. Charles on the other hand became known as a master printer, he stayed back in Shimla and managed the commercial distribution and printing aspects of the business. Through the 1860s, Bourne’s work was exhibited in public exhibition in Europe and was also part of the Paris Universal Exposition in 1867. He also wrote several despatches for ‘The British Journal of Photography between’ 1863–1870, and the company became an avid provider of the Indian landscape views to the common visitors to the country and also to Britishers back home, and not just survived but the thrived in an era of fierce competition between commercial photographers.

In 1866 after the departure of Howard, the company became ‘Bourne & Shepherd’. In 1867 Bourne returned to England briefly to get married and came back to run the new branch in Calcutta, soon it became the company premier photographic studios in India, at their peak their work was widely retailed throughout the subcontinent by agents and in Britain through wholesale distributors, and were patronised by the upper echelons of the British Raj as well as Indian royalty, so much so that at one point no official engagement, investiture or local durbar was considered complete without being first captured Bourne & Shepherd photographers.

In 1870, the year when Bourne went back to England, Bourne and Shepherd were operating from Shimla and Calcutta. Soon he started cotton-doubling business at Nottingham, and founded the Britannia Cotton Mills, and also become a local magistrate. He sold off his shares in studios, and left commercial photography all together; he also left behind his archive of some 2,200 glass plate negatives with the studio, which were constantly re-printed and sold, over the following 140 years, until their eventual destruction, in a fire at Bourne & Shepherd’s present studio in Calcutta, on 6 February 1991.After Bourne’s departure, new photographic work was undertaken by Colin Murray from 1840 to 84, following which in the 1870s Charles Shepherd continued to photograph and at least sixteen Europeans are listed as assistants.

Later the Bombay branch was opened in about 1876, operated by Charles Shepherd until his own departure from India around 1879, the branch continued operations till about 1902. In 1880, they even brought their services to as far as Lahore for a month, where they advertised in a local newspaper, in fact newspaper advertising has been a primary reason of the success of many photographers of that era. Soon their work was widely retailed throughout the subcontinent by agents and in Britain through wholesale distributors.Between 1870 and 1911 the firm sent photographers to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Burma, Nepal and Singapore, had also become Art Publishers, with titles like ‘Photographs of Architecture of Gujarat and Rajputana’ (1904–05), and were now employing Indian photographers as well.

In 1911, they were the official photographers of the Delhi Durbar held to commemorate the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary as Emperor and Empress of India, where they were given the title, ‘Kaiser-e-Hind’ which they still use as part of their official letterhead. During World Wars the studio thrived on the contracts for photographing Indian, British and American services personnel.

In the following years, the studio changed hands several times, so much so the sequence of owners has been all but lost, however the last European owner, Arthur Musselwhite who took over the studio in the 1930s, later after a major business slump following the independence, and exodus of European community and the end of princely states, he held an auction in 1955, in which it was bought over by its present owners, and today the building itself is a heritage property.


Lord Dufferin, in the regalia of the Viceroy of India, Photo by Bourne & Shepherd, Calcutta.

son of H.H. Chunnasee Rajoonath Pant, by Bourne and Shepherd, late 1860s, the Archaeological Survey of India Collections.

Tomb of Muhammad Ghaus at Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, taken by Bourne and Shepherd ca 1883, from the Archaeological Survey of India Collections.

Khusro Bagh, Allahabad, 1870s.

Parsi Marriage, Bourne & Shepherd, Bombay.

Rudyard Kipling, Bourne & Shepherd, c. 1892


Album of early photographs of India, by Charles Shepherd, Samuel Bourne, James Robertson. Published by s.n.

An Album of Photographs of Indian Architecture, Views and People, by Robertson & Shepherd S. Bourne. Published by s.n.

Photographic Views in India, by Bourne & Shepherd. Published by [s.l.], 1866.

Photographic Views of Jumnootri, Mussoorie, Hurdwar, Roorkee, Nynee Tal and Bheem Tal, by Bourne & Shepherd. Published by Bourne & Shepherd., 1867.

A Permanent Record of India: Pictures of Viceroys, Moghul Emperors, Delhi Durbars, Temples, Mosques, Architectures, Types, All Indian Industries, Himalayan Scenes, Views from the Khybar Pass to the Andaman Islands : from 1840 to the Present Day, by Bourne & Shepherd. Published by Bourne & Shepherd.

India and Burma, by Bourne & Shepherd. Published by [s.l.], 1870.

Photographic Views in India, by Bourne and Shepherd, Simla, Calcutta, & Bombay. by Bourne and Shepherd. Published by Bourne & Shepherd.

Photographic Views in India, by Bourne & Shepherd, Calcutta and Simla, by Bourne & Shepherd, Published by Thomas S. Smith, City Press, 1878.

Photographic Views in India, by Bourne & Shepherd, Published by Howard Ricketts Limited.