As the beautiful and exotic country of Burma (now Myanmar) opens its doors to the outside world, this book gives a rare insight into its remarkable past. Based on largely unpublished letters and dairies written from Burma during the first half of the twentieth century, it is a family story which provides an intimate picture of everyday life in pre-independence Burma.
Spanning fifty years from the days of the British Raj to the granting of full independence after the Japanese conflict, it tells a vivid and often humorous tale of the challenges of life in Buddhist Burma as lived by a handful of Anglican missionaries. These men and women left a comfortable but dull life in Edwardian Britain in quest of adventure. As they set out on the six week sea passage to Burma, their task was to preach Christianity in a Buddhist land about which they knew little. But once there, they rapidly fell in love with the country, its rich culture and warm people, whom they grew to respect deeply. From descriptions of tea on the lawn of the Governor’s residence to daily struggles with insects, illness and climate, and adventures with bullock carts and early motor cars, their letters home contain fascinating vignettes of a long-extinct colonial way of life alongside a daily life in Burma which is largely unchanged today.
The author was born in Burma and is the narrator throughout. She starts with stories of the myths and legends lying behind the country’s origins, and recounts many of her childhood memories. She also gives some insight into its politics, history and geography, and devotes a chapter to a first hand account of the devastating trek from Burma to India to escape the Japanese, written in the mid 1940s. Her husband shared her interest in Burma, having served there in the Indian army, and some of his memories are included.
Born in Burma in 1924, Anne now lives in Norfolk. War service and work as a Probation Officer, teacher and Guider has led to her fascination with history, and she has written widely about people and places. Bewitched by Burma all her life, she recently revisited the country after an absence of 70 years.