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'A daughter of the Empire': Beryl White In India 1901-03
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'A daughter of the Empire': Beryl White In India 1901-03

Beryl WhiteBeryl WhiteBeryl White (1877-1954) was born near Calcutta and lived in Sikkim in northern India where, following marriage to a British army officer, she pursued her private interest in art and photography.

This exhibition examines her life as one member of the British ruling class in India at the beginning of the twentieth century through the pages of a remarkable scrapbook that she compiled between 1901 and 1903.

The album forms part of the collection brought together by Lt Col John Heard, a Royal Engineer who served in India during the Second World War, which is now preserved in the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College London.

The album demonstrates a keen eye for detail in her choice of photography and illustration – of landscape, domestic interiors and social engagements, not least the Delhi Durbar of 1903.

The Durbar was a grand ceremony organised by the Viceroy, Lord Curzon, to celebrate the newly crowned King Edward VII, who was declared Emperor of India on New Year’s Day, 1903.

Beryl White attended the spectacular and elaborate festival with her parents as part of the Sikkim contingent.

The contents of the scrapbook are richly varied. As well as photographs, Beryl includes drawings, watercolours, menus, her invitation to the Durbar review, numerous signatures, coloured emblems and her dance cards at social events.

Her album provides a unique window on the domestic, social and political circumstances of her time.

Research on the album was carried out by Renate Dohmen in a collaborative project between King’s College Archives, Birkbeck College and the London Centre for Arts and Cultural Enterprise (LCACE).

We would like to thank Renate, Beryl Hartley, Birkbeck and LCACE for their assistance in this project.

June 2007; revised April 2011

PLEASE NOTE: This exhibition was created for the web and is only available to view online.

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