The papers of Clive of India

from the National Library of Wales
Bowen, Huw
Date published: 
September 2007

This collection forms an essential resource for those studying the life and career of Robert Clive (1725-1774), a man who stands in the very first rank of historical figures. It is also of the greatest importance to those who wish fully to explore the often hotly debated events that preceded, accompanied and followed the establishment of Britain's Indian empire during the mid-18th century, especially the periods 1756-1760 and 1765-1766. By reproducing in full Clive's English and Persian correspondence, the collection makes it possible to compare firsthand Indian and European accounts of Clive's resounding victory in 1757 at Plassey over the superior French-backed force of the Nawab of Bengal in the aftermath of the notorious 'Black Hole of Calcutta' incident; of the conclusive routing of the Dutch in 1759; or of the ill-fated career of Maharaja Nandakumara (d. 1775), who became chief administrator of revenues through Clive's patronage. First an officer in the private army of the East India Company, and then later twice governor of Bengal, Clive was the leading actor in the political and military events of the 1750s and 1760s that served to lay the foundations of the British Raj. But he was also a highly controversial figure who, during an often troubled lifetime, attracted much unwanted attention from the public, Parliament, and the press. Many in Britain came to revile him and, tainted by accusations of corruption and the abuse of power in India, he was condemned for spending his enormous private fortune on houses, estates and possessions, acquired in an attempt to carve out an elevated position for his family in English landed society. Even in death Clive remained controversial, with many believing that he committed suicide in 1774 at the age of forty-nine. Originally part of the Clive family's Powis estate, this immensely rich and varied collection of papers facilitates close study of a highly complex and enigmatic man, as well as the contested origins of the British Indian empire. In addition the papers contain invaluable material on the economic, social and political history of Britain during the 18th century. Published with the permission of the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, this microfilm edition is accompanied by guide comprising a detailed catalogue by the Library's Archival Data Section, introduced by Huw Bowen, Professor of Modern History at University of Wales, Swansea.