Writing Reform: Narrating the “New Woman” and Female Medical Education in India
In her preface to Mary Billington’s book, Woman in India (1891), Lady Dufferin claimed that “the facilities of travel, and the quick transition of news, have brought India very near to us, and every day greater and more intelligent interest is taken in her affairs and in her people; while the social conditions and the ‘rights’ of women all over the world occupy the attention of many thoughtful minds” (viii). India clearly occupied a central place in the British colonial vision and, as Britain’s most central and intimate colony, India was the site and focus of social and medical reform, as the previous chapter has shown. Representations of reform and cultural progress became a focal point within a number of texts produced by British and Indian women in colonial India during the 1880s and 1890s at the same time as administrative projects such as the Dufferin Fund expanded medical access and education to both British and Indian women and allowed for renewed focus on the management of bodies and empire as intertwined.1 Both of these colonial developments-the increased production of texts produced by women and organizational changes in medical education and medical access-occurred simultaneously and placed Indian women’s lives at the forefront of social and cultural debates. Images of Indian women became more complex and diverse with the emergence of greater numbers of literary texts produced by women themselves and with changes in opportunities for Indian women towards the end of the century.