Bob Fowke, YouCaxton’s Managing Editor, will be giving a talk entitled Opium & Pagodas Aspects of life in 18th Century India at the Church Barn, Bishop’s Castle, Sunday 23rd February at 2.00 pm, admission free.
In July 1775, Maharaja Nuncomar and Joseph Fowke were tried in Calcutta for conspiracy against Governor Warren Hastings. Nuncomar was hanged for a parallel offence; Joseph got off with a fine of fifty rupees. Two years later, Philip Francis, Hastings’s chief opponent on the Council and a friend of Joseph, was caught in flagrante with a ladder beneath the bedroom of beautiful Mrs Grand, who went on to marry Prince Tallyrand while he was foreign minister to Napoleon. Two years after that, Francis challenged Hastings to a duel but neither man knew how to shoot a pistol and Francis was wounded but survived. In the meantime, Joseph gambled away his second fortune and sailed for home, having sold his Stradivarius cello and complaining about the new-fangled music of Haydn.
Life for British residents in Calcutta in the late eighteenth century was incestuous but colourful. Bob Fowke explores some aspects of this exotic world in his illustrated talk.