This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Discomforts of Empire: Emily Eden's Life in India, 1836-1842




Christiansen, Amy

Type of Degree





This thesis discusses the physical and psychological discomforts of Emily Eden, an English aristocrat, during her life in India from 1836 to 1842. I argue that the comforts Eden identified during her early life in England defined how she interacted in India with her new surroundings, climate, and separation from family and friends. Eden believed that comfort was based in the pleasure and privileges of home as well as modes of life. When her comforts of home were compromised in India, the “hot land of strangers,” Eden clung to her identity as an aristocratic British woman. Physically, the Indian climate impacted Emily’s comforts and influenced her daily routine and activities like gardening, the experience of indoor and outdoor spaces, and interactions with the landscape and the picturesque scenery. The separation from family and friends, the apparent loss of her identity due to the lack of political influence, isolation from other Europeans, and her own perceived Indianization affected Emily psychologically.