No one could have invented John Beames (1837-1902), whose vibrant and original memoirs, which had been written for his own amusement, were discovered by chance in an attic almost a century after they were penned. He arrived in India in 1858, and worked there as a civil servant for the next 45 years, defending powerless peasants against rapacious planters, improvising 15-gun salutes for visiting dignitaries, and presiding over the blissful coast of Orissa. His acquaintances spanned from lofty Rajas to dissolute Englishmen. Vivid, candid and without fear of authority, Beames was a defiant individual in a huge bureaucracy. He writes with the richness of Dickens. Originally published in 1961, these memoirs were reissued in 1984 and now in 2003.
Memoirs of a Bengal Civilian