The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib

On the surface, The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib seems drastically different from The Imperialist. Duncan’s later novel tells the story of Helen, a reserved woman who leaves her native England in order to marry a man in imperial India. At times, Duncan seems to put the story of Helen aside in order to offer glimpses at Anglo-Indian life, depicting different sorts of characters: an MP whom other colonists dislike due to his ignorance of India, an older man who wishes for the corruption and depravity of the earliest days of imperialism, etc. In her chapters regarding Helen, though, Duncan reveals the repressive nature of memsahib life. Helen tries and fails at domestic tasks, and, in a memorable scene, appears jealous of an Indian, female servant who chooses not to have babies and espouses an ethos reminiscent of English New Women. In creating a memsahib character who is unhappy with her surroundings, but, at the same time, kind and open-minded, Duncan attacks the domineering memsahib stereotype popularized by Rudyard Kipling and other contemporary writers.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:

A version of this text has been digitized and is available through the Internet Archive.

Sara Jeannette Duncan (1861-1922)
The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib
Reprint of the 1893 edition originally published by D. Appleton, New York