The Blue Journeys of Thomas Machell

by - Saturday, July 03, 2010

When we think about Indigo we think about Jenny Balfour-Paul, author of the British Library publication Indigo. But who does Jenny think about when she thinks about indigo? Most probably it is Thomas Machell.

In 1999 Jenny discovered the journals of Machell in the British Library. It was a remarkable find. Born in 1824, he began traveling at the age of 16. He sketched (the image above is a self portrait) and kept notes and writings. Before he died in 1862 he had gathered the materials together into a 3000 page journal. In it he details his love of Indigo and Bengal. He saw many things, including the opium wars and the transformation of Hong Kong from a tiny fishing village into an international seaport.

Recently The Telegraph (which still has "Calcutta" on its masthead) ran a story about Jenny Balfour-Paul and her interest in the Thomas Machell journals. Jenny is working on the Story of Machells life which will be “the opposite of biography”, because she feels that the parallels between her life and his are so strong that it is almost as if they were the same person.

See the Telegraph for the full story.

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