|The only surviving photograph of the Edaljis (1892). George is on the left.|
This episode, Paul and I are delighted to welcome to the podcast journalist and author Shrabani Basu to talk about Conan Doyle, George Edalji and her new book The Mystery of the Parsee Lawyer (Bloomsbury, 2021).
In 1903, the quiet village of Great Wyrley near Birmingham is shocked by a spate of horrific horse maiming. Suspicion improbably falls on George Edalji, a quiet, socially awkward, brown-skinned young lawyer, the son of Shapurji Edalji, the first Indian to become vicar of an English parish. The Edaljis have been subject to prolonged persecution and racial abuse for the last fifteen years, since a series of anonymous letters appeared in 1888.
Despite the flimsy evidence in the case, George Edalji is convicted of the maimings and is sent to prison. When he is released early, his conviction hangs over him and he is unable to return to his chosen profession. Frustrated, he writes to the one man he believes can help, the great author of detective fiction, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Paul and I talk to Shrabani about the details of the Edalji case, the evidence of police corruption Shrabani has unearthed, and the small-town racism that feels as relevant today as it was then.
You can listen to the episode below, or on the podcatcher of your choice
Biography of Shrabani Basu
For King and Another Country: Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-18 (Bloomsbury, 2016) https://www.amazon.co.uk/King-Another-Country-Soldiers-Western/dp/1408880113/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&keywords=shrabani+basu&qid=1626772561&sr=8-4
Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant (The History Press, 2010) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Abdul-Queens-Closest-Confidant/dp/0752453645/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1626772561&sr=8-3
Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan (History Press, 2008) https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spy-Princess-Life-Noor-Inayat/dp/0750950560/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1626772561&sr=8-2
Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish (The History Press), https://www.amazon.co.uk/Curry-Nations-Favourite-Shrabani-2004-02-25/dp/B01K183K3Y/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=shrabani+basu+curry&qid=1626785206&sr=8-1_
Works by Conan Doyle referenced in the podcast
Uncle Jeremy’s Household (1887), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Uncle_Jeremy%27s_Household
The Mystery of Cloomber (1888), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Mystery_of_Cloomber
The Sign of Four (1890), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Sign_of_Four
The Story of the Brown Hand (1899), https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=The_Story_of_the_Brown_Hand
Next time on Doings of Doyle
Conan Doyle’s Anglo-Indian gothic tale, Uncle Jeremy’s Household (1887). Read it here: https://www.arthur-conan-doyle.com/index.php?title=Uncle_Jeremy%27s_Household
Image credits: Thanks to Alexis Barquin at The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopaedia for permission to reproduce these images. Please support the encyclopaedia at www.arthur-conan-doyle.com.
Music credit: Sneaky Snitch Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/