The Mutiny at the Margins series takes a fresh look at the revolt of 1857 from original and unusual perspectives, focusing in particular on neglected socially marginal groups and geographic areas which have hitherto tended to be unrepresented in studies of this cataclysmic event in British imperial and Indian historiography.
Chapter 17: The Letters and Writings of Thomas de Quincey
The Letters and Writings of Thomas de Quincey
THOMAS de Quincey (1785–1859) is best known for his Confessions of an English Opium-Eater (1821). However, he was also a prolific journalist; debt and addiction dogged most of his life and forced him to write for a living. At the time of the Indian Uprising, Quincey's daughter Florence was in India at Roorkee. Her husband, Colonel Richard Baird Smith of the Bengal Engineers, was one of Kaye and Malleson's ‘heroes’ of the uprising. Quincey's published articles in September and October 1857 reflect his intense personal fears for his daughter's safety. His biographer, James Hogg, later wrote,
I can never forget the intense anxiety with which he studied daily the columns ...