The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

The Fishing Fleet: Husband-Hunting in the Raj

by Anne de Courcy


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By the late nineteenth century, Britain's colonial reign seemed to know no limit—and India was the sparkling jewel in the Imperial crown. Many of Her Majesty's best and brightest young men departed for the Raj to make their careers, and their fortunes, as bureaucrats, soldiers, and businessmen. But in their wake they left behind countless young ladies who, suddenly bereft of eligible bachelors, found themselves facing an uncertain future. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, some of these women decided to follow suit and abandon their native Britain for India's exotic glamour and—with men outnumbering women by roughly four to one in the Raj—the best chance they had at finding a husband.

Drawing on a wealth of firsthand sources, including unpublished memoirs, letters, photographs, and diaries, Anne de Courcy brings the incredible world of "the Fishing Fleet," as these women were known, to life. In these sparkling pages, she describes the glittering whirlwind of dances, parties, tennis tournaments, tiger shoots, and palatial banquets that awaited in the Raj, all geared toward the prospect of romance. Most of the girls were away from home for the first time, and they plunged headlong into the heady dazzle of expatriate social life; marriages were frequent. However, after the honeymoon many women were confronted with a reality that was far from the fairy tale they'd been chasing.

Rich with drama and color, The Fishing Fleet is a sumptuous, utterly compelling real-life saga of adventure, romance, and heartbreak in the heyday of the British Empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062290076
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/04/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Anne de Courcy has written eleven books, including Diana Mosley: Mitford Beauty, British Fascist, Hitler's Angel; Debs at War; and The Viceroy's Daughters. She lives in London and Gloucestershire.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Map of India ix

The Viceroys of India xi

Prologue 1

Intorduction 9

1 'Champagne has been known to allay sea sickness when all else failed' The Voyage Out 17

2 'Happy hunting-ground of the single girl' The Women Who Went Out 32

3 'Kisses on the boat deck' Love at Sea 44

4 'A £300-a-year man-dead or alive' The Men They Met 55

5 'Welcome to India' Arrivals 72

6 'A hell of a heat' The Climate 85

7 'Parties, parties, parties' The Social Whirl 94

8 The Viceroy's Daughter Elisabeth Bruce 108

9 'There are so many "Ladies"' Viceregal Entertainments 125

10 'I told him it was only the moonlight' Courtship 139

11 'It would be a pleasure to be in his harem, I thought' Maharajas 154

12 'Us and them' Brits and Indians 166

13 'I thought my heart was going to jump out of my body' Grace Trotter 173

14 'Where every Jack has someone else's Jill' The Hills 185

15 '"No" would have been unthinkable' Engagement 202

16 Daughter of the Raj Bethea Field 216

17 'Colonels must marry' Marriage 230

18 'No one will want to marry me now!' Perils 241

19 'As I inspected ours I sighed a bit' The First Home 256

20 "But what about horses? And Polo? And Parties?' Iris Butler 265

21 'Just lift up your skirts and you'll be all right' Up Country 278

22 'Cheerio, old girl' Sheila Hingston 292

Epilogue 307

Acknowledgements 313

Bibliography 315

Index 319

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The Fishing Fleet : Husband-Hunting in the Raj 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished this book in hardback. Really well written. Informative but also engaging. The book covered a lot of British manners and customs in India during the early 1900s. Odd, sad and funny stories of young women trying to find husbands. A+++++++
ljethrogibbs46 More than 1 year ago
A fascinating book about a bygone era.  My greatgrandfather & grandmother Stewart were a small part of the Raj in India, he as a Command Sgt. Major in the Royal Scots Regiment (the oldest in the British Army) & she as a regimental nurse.  She later wrote a small journal of her time there:  rides through jungles, finding cobra skins under her bed, spending a night at the Taj Mahal before embarking for England.  They served in India in the late 1800's at the height of British power in the country.   I  was not aware of the complex codes of conduct, rank, station, &  rules for everyday life which prevailed.  Thrusting these young women into such an alien environment with virtually no preparation had devastating consequences for many.  it's hard for us today to imagine their grit & determination to stay the course & "just get on with it" as so many did.s
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