1st Edition

The Black Hole or The Makings of a Legend

By Iris Macfarlane Copyright 1975
    344 Pages
    by Routledge

    Who went into the Black Hole of Calcutta? Who came out alive? And does it matter anyway? Historically not at all, but it is perhaps important to try to understand why such an event (of which the known facts are so at variance with the legend) ever assumed such significance and became one of the few things that anyone knows about India. In The Black Hole (originally published in 1975), Iris Macfarlane tries to answer these questions.

    The author aims to fill the gap between the classic studies of Indian history and the imaginary history of the novelists. She writes with a great awareness of the injustice done to two-thirds of the world by colonisers who, first with guns, then with bibles and grammars, imposed on the native people that sense of inferiority on which colonialism feeds and thrives. Then, she says, they used incidents like the Black Hole, distorted and exaggerated, to justify their actions.

    In this book, the story of the colonisation of India is told from the arrival of the first merchants until the incidents of the Black Hole, to show how India was reduced to subjection. The Black Hole itself is investigated in great depth to extract the facts that can be proved and to set them up beside the legend.

    Introduction One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Appendix 1. Text of Howell’s Narrative 2. Biographical Notes


    Iris Macfarlane was a British writer. She born in Quetta, India (now Pakistan) in 1922. She was sent home to England and when she was sixteen was taken out to India in 1939. Having learnt Assamese and Gaelic, she published books of translations of folk stories from the Assamese and the Celts. She studied Assamese and Indian history, which led to several articles in History Today