chapter  3
Desire, Love and Mixed-Race Children: Plotting Anglo-Indian Popular Fiction
Pages 24

This chapter moves from England and Palestine to the Indian subcontinent and into the realm of popular writing. The novels under investigation are women’s best-selling novels, set in colonial India. In critical discourse, these novels are generically referred to as ‘Anglo-Indian fi ction’, or, to signal more specifi cally their indebtedness to everyday and romantic issues, ‘Anglo-Indian domestic novels’ or ‘Indian Romances’.1 Anglo-Indian popular fi ction is an important genre in the context of colonial literature and exotic discourse, if in retrospect a rather short-lived phenomenon. These novels ‘began to appear in the 1880s,’ as Alison Sainsbury writes, ‘made a strong showing through the 1920s, began to die out in the 1930s, and had mostly disappeared by the 1940s, along with direct British rule of India’.2 It was women ‘of the Anglo-Indian community, o cial, civilian, or military’ who were mostly, but not exclusively, the authors of these novels.3 The names associated with the genre include Bithia Mary Croker, Ethel M. Dell, Maud Diver, Alice Eustace, Hilda Caroline Gregg (writing as Sydney C. Grier), Fanny E. F. Penny, Alice Perrin, E. W. Savi and Flora Annie Steel. This list, however, is by no means exhaustive and includes only the most prolifi c and popular writers of the genre; there were dozens of other women, some of whom are discussed in this chapter, who produced many hundreds of novels and short stories that are only gradually being rediscovered.