Mary Minto was a woman of her times. Some of her opinions would make contemporary feminists, egalitarians of all sorts, gasp in horror but her extraordinary charm and passion for life, her sense of humour and sharp eye and ear for place, person and dialogue make her irresistible. The people she met, the sights she saw and wrote of from her ringside position are part of all our histories most deliciously described in her journal. Even Lord Kitchener, stiff image on a poster, comes to improbable life playing parlour games at Simla and winning, to general hilarity, a baby elephant at the Minto Fete. There is so much more—maharajas, palaces, tigers and bears, pet dogs, Afghanistan and Burma, kings, queens and princes, a vast brigade of servants... this is a vivid slideshow of a particular life in India at the beginning of a century of change illustrated with previously unseen photographs…riches indeed.
“I have read Mary Minto’s journals with enormous pleasure. She has a wonderfully keen eye for the telling detail and a great deal of her Indian story is entirely new to me, the journal is immensely readable.”
— Philip Ziegler
British biographer and historian; recent works
include the biography of Laurence Olivier.
“I found the Minto Journals a fascinating revelation of Edwardian character. Passionate descriptions of hunts and shoots, a clear and descriptive eye for the detail of ceremonial and a fierce love for family—her gusto and energy must have made her quite exceptional and magnetic….bears, generals, princes, mystics either dead at her feet or swept alongside…love that scene of the charming if bloodthirsty Amir of Afghanistan singing indecent Persian love songs…and how she got Kitchener playing the feather game…lots of delights.”
— Barnaby Rogerson
Publisher, author and biographer of the
Prophet Muhammad among other biographies.
Anabel Loyd has lived and worked in India and is a constant visitor to the sub-continent from the UK. She is fascinated by Indian history and culture with a particular interest in the first half of the 20th century leading at last to Independence. She writes a regular column for the Indian Telegraph on British current events with occasional excursions in other directions. When she read Mary Minto’s journal over a wet weekend in the Scottish Borders, it was at first with fellow feeling for another Mother of five who further suffered corsets and complicated Edwardian clothes whatever the Calcutta heat. There proved to be far more to Mary than minor domestic irritations and Anabel has greatly enjoyed her company, however gaspingly reactionary some of her opinions appear today.