Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Untold Story of India’s First Newspaper by Andrew Otis

Late eighteenth century Calcutta.

The British are well-ensconced in Bengal, but not yet an empire. Indian princes pose a danger to the East India Company’s plans of commerce and domination. Warren Hastings, the British governor-general, is attempting to consolidate his power in the Company.
Johann Zacharias Kiernander is on a mission to convert heathen souls in a land far from his native Sweden though he is not averse to lining his pockets while doing ‘God’s work’.

Into this steaming cauldron of skullduggery and intrigue walks James Augustus Hicky, a wild Irishman seeking fame and fortune. Sensing an opportunity, he decides to establish a newspaper, the first of its kind in South Asia. In two short years, his endeavour threatens to lay bare the murky underside of the early British empire. Does it succeed?

This is the story of the forces Hicky came up against, the corrupt authorities determined to stop him and of his resourcefulness. The product of five years of research by Andrew Otis in the archives of India, UK and Germany, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette: The Story of India’s First Newspaper is an essential and compelling addition to the history of subcontinental journalism.

About the Author

Andrew Otis is a journalist and historian. He holds a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Rochester and is currently pursuing a PhD in Journalism at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism.

Andrew spent five years researching and writing on Hicky’s Bengal Gazette, first as a Joseph P. O’Hern scholar in London and then as a Fulbright-Fellow to Kolkata, India (2013-2014). Andrew lives in Washington D.C.

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