Posted on: 18 April 2014

Digital Rare Book:
Handbook of the Bombay Presidency - With an account of Bombay city.
Published by John Murray, London - 1881

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Bombay Harbour, India
1850s to 1870s
Photographer: Francis Frith, born 1822 - died 1898

Copyright: © V&A Images

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John Murray published 3 Presidency & one (NWFP+Punjab) guide books. Pioneering work of Captain EB Eastwick. These came up before Hunter's Imperial Gazetteer , leading up to the first travel guide to India in 1892 - John Murray's "The Handbook of India, Burma & Ceylon" . The 500 page details here are far better than Thomas Cook & Sons India guide books even until 1930s . Only the rare 1 edition German Baedeker's guide comes close to John Murray guidebooks. Somewhere in 1940s, John Murray guidebooks dropped "Burma" . Even until 1954-55, they continued to be the essential guides under the same format with a title - "India, Pakistan & Ceylon". But the partition then blocked key land journey routes ( which is how the guide had been structured). No Lonely Planet or Outlook Traveler guidebook has ever been able to fill the space left by John Murray's guidebook. Summarized local history & culture for each location, detailed city maps & the land journey flows of old Murray guides makes them so relevant even today, when web-search cultures are fragmenting information all the time.

Looking so clean !