ROBERTS, Emma (1791-1840) and Robert ELLIOTT (1801-1875). Views in India, China, and on the shores of the Red Sea. London: H. Fisher, R. Fisher & P. Jackson, 1835.

$ 1,800.00

2 volumes in one. 4to., (10 6/8 x 8 inches). Frontispiece "printed in oil colours by G. Baxter" after David Roberts, 2 additional engraved vignette title-pages, and 61 plates after sketches by Robert Elliott (one or two minor spots). Near contemporary plum morocco, gilt, all edges gilt by Sackmann of New York, with their ticket on the front paste-down (extremities a bit scuffed).  

Provenance: from the library of Jacques Levy, his sale, Sotheby's, 20th April 2012, lot 340.  

First edition, and an attractive copy. Following her sister to India in 1828, Roberts wrote: 'There cannot be a more wretched situation than that of a young woman in India who has been induced to follow the fortunes of her married sister under the delusive expectation that she will exchange the privations attached to limited means in England for the far-famed luxuries of the East'. (Roberts, Scenes and Characteristics, 1.33-4). Sadly her sister died in 1830, whereupon Roberts turned her experience into subject of a series of successful books, including a volume of poetry, 'Oriental Scenes' in 1830, (which she claimed to be the first written by a British woman in India).

"The objectivity gained from what she perceived to be her peripheral role as a spinster in British society in India was turned to account in her descriptions of both the British and Indians, for whom she showed sympathy. Many of her articles which appeared in the 'Asiatic Journal' from 1832 were published as 'Scenes and Characteristics of Hindostan' (1835). The book was widely praised, the 'Calcutta Literary Gazette' noting, 'there is a vivacity, a delicacy, and a truth in her light sketches of all that lay immediately before her, that have never been surpassed in any book of travels that is at this moment present to our memory'" (Rosemary Cargill Raza for DNB).  The original sketches for the fine engravings in this book are by Commander Robert James Elliott, who from 1822 to 1824 travelled in India, Canton (Guangzhou), and the Red Sea. These finished by Samuel Prout, Clarkson Stanfield, published as here. Catalogued by Kate Hunter