1st Edition

Entrepreneurship in the Age of Empire Colonialism, Collaboration and Exploitation

By Sarah Dietz Copyright 2021
    280 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    280 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Exploring the interplay of politics and commerce in one of the most dynamic periods of British history, this book traces the fortunes of the India and Eastern Trading Company Limited, established in 1906 to finance a jute plantation in Assam, north-east India. In a watershed period for commercial culture, as family capitalism and industrial economics gave way to a predominance of speculative investment and the marketing of ideas, analysis of this London-registered company and its international management forms a lens through which to view the broader socio-political and economic environment of the late-Victorian period to the interwar. Mapping the eclectic bonds that created a network of association between a multinational cast of merchants, company promoters, mining engineers, politicians and industrialists, reveals the multiplicity of strands which coalesced to create one share company. By examining their responses to the opportunities created by colonialism: to enabling legislations and set-backs, to competition and collaboration, internationalism versus rising nationalism, an important era in British history is examined from an entirely fresh perspective.

    The history of the India and Eastern Trading Company Limited is a tale of cloaked agendas, of land speculation under the guise of colonial agriculture, of German and Russian interests embedded in British-empire prospects, which exposes the intrigues of some of the most infamous imperialists of the era; figures who were the subject of intense academic scrutiny throughout the twentieth century and remain at the forefront of impassioned debate in the twenty first.

    Chapter One

    The Company Prospectus and the Opportunity for Jute Growing in Assam

    India and Eastern Trading Company ̶ The Prospectus

    Chapter Two

    German Enterprise in the British Empire

    Alexander Classen – The Founder

    Chapter Three

    The Role of the Company Promoter in Joint-Stock Enterprise

    Henry Theodore Van Laun – The Promoter

    Chapter Four

    Networks, Patronage and their International Diffusion

    Eugene Auguste Digby – The Fundraiser

    Chapter Five

    Gentlemanly Capitalism and Britain’s Informal Empire in South America

    Stanley William Ford – The Chairman

    Chapter Six

    International Corporate Governance and Creating a Competitive Investment Culture in Joint-Stock Companies

    Hugo Likiernik – The Company Secretary

    Chapter Seven

    Chamberlainism and the Impact of Increasing Anglo-German Antagonism on Commerce

    William Burton Stewart – The Politician

    Chapter Eight

    The Plantation Economy, Jute Cultivation and Land Speculation

    Bronisław Oderfeld – The Industrialist

    Chapter Nine

    Rebranding and Refinancing Colonial Enterprise

    John Henry Grayson Riley – The Capitalist

    Chapter Ten

    The Amalgamation of Colonial Plantations During the First World War

    George St. Lawrence Mowbray – The Amalgamator




    Sarah Dietz is a textile specialist who has received awards from the Royal Society of Arts and the Worshipful Company of Weavers in association with the Textile Institute. Following a successful career in the British textile industry, currently she works as an independent historian, specialising in the history of entrepreneurship.