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Illustrated Pursuits: W.S.Sherwill In India 1834 - 1861

Illustrated Pursuits: W.S.Sherwill In India 1834 - 1861

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This book was inspired by a set of 33 extraordinary pen and ink drawings sketched in India by my great-great grandfather, Walter Stanhope Sherwill. I first saw the drawings inherited by my family in New Zealand, when I was about seven years old. I looked at them with amazement, excited to realise that one of my forebears had the skill to make such images. I also recall thinking how old and mysterious they were, especially because no one seemed to know very much about either the drawings or what they represented. Although the ragged edged paper had turned to light sepia, the drawings were still distinct and engaging, depicting exotic Indian landscapes dispersed with a range of curious landmarks —vast unusual rock formations, caverns and precipices, an ancient embedded gun, carved monuments, hot springs, enormous banyan trees—and inhabited by fascinating people sometimes shown working with large, sturdy elephants. Each drawing had a caption providing the location, date (between 1846 and 1851) and other details, neatly handwritten in a clear, cursive style. Although I’d never before seen anything like the drawings or the world they portrayed, I told myself that one day I would do what I could to honour their significance. Many years later, I have been able to learn something of the long forgotten life and times of Walter Stanhope Sherwill. Also, by publishing Illustrated Pursuits in Kolkata, I have had the privilege of working on this project and sharing his endeavours with descendants of the people represented in his work.

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art / indian / Ngaire Gardner / nonfiction /