George and Emily Eden: Pride, Privilege, Empire and the Whigs

By Brigid Allen

An illuminating insight into the sibling pair George and Emily Eden that traces their interlocking private and public lives.

ISBN: 9780718897451


George and Emily Eden were a devoted sibling pair. Both unmarried, they were accepted as a mildly unconventional couple by friends in the dynastically conscious governing class. George (1784-1849) entered politics as a Whig to replace his elder brother, who had been groomed for success but drowned in the Thames off Westminster one January night in 1810. Four years later George inherited his father’s peerage as 2nd Baron Auckland. In 1835 he was appointed Governor-General of India, and Emily (1797-1869), although reluctant to leave her close friend, the Prime Minister Lord Melbourne, went with him.

A witty and perceptive writer, who later published a distinctively voiced pair of novels, Emily chronicled the Indian period, as she did her entire adult life, in letters. Allen traces the development of her closeness to George, their interlocking private and public lives and the events that impacted on them, including the Afghan disaster of January 1842 and the mixture of blame and forbearance that George attracted at home. A poignant coda describes Emily’s final twenty years as Victorian invalid, author, and observer of the political scene.

Additional information

Dimensions N/A
Pages 324
Illustrations 14 b&w

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Trade Information LPOD

About the Author

Brigid Allen studied History at Somerville College, Oxford and has a Ph.D from University College London. She has worked as an editorial researcher and archivist in many areas, from the papers of the American statesman Alexander Hamilton to private papers of the 19th- and 20th-century British in India. Her books and articles reflect diverse interests from diaries to food history, including the acclaimed literary biography Peter Levi, Oxford Romantic (2014).



Chapter One: A Suicide
Chapter Two: The Family
Chapter Three: George
Chapter Four: Coping
Chapter Five: A Sibling Household
Chapter Six: Ireland, Greenwich, Reform
Chapter Seven: A “Sough” of India
Chapter Eight: Calcutta
Chapter Nine: Up the Country
Chapter Ten: The Toils of War
Chapter Eleven: Glorious Ghuznee
Chapter Twelve: Catastrophe
Chapter Thirteen: Taking the Train
Chapter Fourteen: Living On

Appendix A: Where Are Emily’s Papers?
Appendix B: Emily and the Postcolonials
Abbreviations and Explanations
Selective Bibliography


Endorsements and Reviews

Witty, intelligent, frequently sardonic – and always class-conscious – Emily Eden captured her life elegantly with pen and sketchbook. And what a life it was! A daughter of the great Whig political world, Emily was hostess and companion for her much-loved brother George, 2nd Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India. This carefully researched book sweeps the reader from England to India, and back again, as it recounts their intertwined lives against the rich backdrop of English and imperial politics in the first half of the nineteenth century.
Professor Elaine Chalus, Professor of British History, University of Liverpool