When a painterly eye combines with the quill or pen, the outcome is quite striking, particularly in the narration of memoirs. Interestingly, though Indians started writing about their lives by the second half of the 19th century, hardly any appeared to be familiar with the paintbrush or pencil; at best, as a mandatory acceptance of the new visual medium of photography, a studio portrait of the author might appear as the frontispiece. On the other hand, to explore the Indian countryside and its growing urban areas with a paintbrush or early colour-pencils was not unusual for British civil servants, doctors and engineers; several combined this interest with photography, the latter often a requirement of their jobs. A handful of women — often skilled, amateur watercolourists — has left behind a rich legacy of memories brought alive by visual images. While Charlotte Canning inherited a tradition of combining memory with image from Emily Eden and Fanny Parks, she also embellished her writings with photographs. An accomplished photographer (in some of the handful that survives from the thousands she took), she emphasized composition, backdrop and overall effect.
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