Flora Annie Steel

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Flora Annie Steel
Flora Annie Steel.jpg
Flora Annie Steel, ca. 1903
Born (1847-04-02)2 April 1847
Sudbury, Middlesex, England[1]
Died 12 April 1929(1929-04-12) (aged 82)
Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England[1]
Occupation Writer
Nationality English
Period 19th century
Genre History, Fiction, Children's Literature

Flora Annie Steel (2 April 1847 – 12 April 1929) was an English writer who was noted for writing books set in British India or otherwise connected to it.

Personal life

She was born Flora Annie Webster in Sudbury, Middlesex, the sixth child of George Webster.[1] In 1867, she married Henry William Steel, a member of the Indian Civil Service, and for the next twenty-two years lived in India (until 1889),[2] chiefly in the Punjab, with which most of her books are connected. She grew deeply interested in native Indian life and began to urge educational reforms on the government of India. Mrs Steel became an Inspectress of Government and Aided Schools in the Punjab and also worked with John Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard Kipling's father, to foster Indian arts and crafts.[3] When her husband's health was weak, Flora Annie Steel took over some of his responsibilities.

She died at her daughter's house in Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire on 12 April 1929.[4] Her biographers include Violet Powell[5][6] and Daya Patwardhan.[7][8]


Flora Annie Steel was interested in relating to all classes of Indian society. The birth of her daughter gave her a chance to interact with local women and learn their language. She encouraged the production of local handicrafts and collected folk-tales, a collection of which she published in 1894.

Her interest in schools and the education of women gave her a special insight into native life and character. A year before leaving India, she coauthored and published The Complete Indian Housekeeper, giving detailed directions to European women on all aspects of household management in India.

In 1889 the family moved back to Scotland, and she continued her writing there. Some of her best work, according to the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, is contained in two collections of short stories, From the Five Rivers and Tales of the Punjab.

Her novel On the Face of the Waters (1896) describes incidents in the Indian Mutiny. She also wrote a popular history of India. John F. Riddick describes Steel's The Hosts of the Lord as one of the "three significant works" produced by Anglo-Indian writers on Indian missionaries, along with The Old Missionary (1895) by William Wilson Hunter and Idolatry (1909) by Alice Perrin.[9] Among her other literary associates in India was Bithia Mary Croker.[10]


Tales of the Punjab (1894) illustrated by John Lockwood Kipling
  • Wide Awake Stories (1884)
  • From the Five Rivers (1893)
  • Miss Stuart's Legacy (1893)
  • Tales of the Punjab (1894)
  • The Flower of Forgiveness (1894)
  • The Potter's Thumb (1894)
  • Red Rowans (1895)
  • On the Face of the Waters (1896)
  • In the Permanent Way, and Other Stories (1897)
  • In the Tideway (1897)
  • The Hosts of the Lord (1900)[11]
  • Voices in the Night (1900)
  • In the Guardianship of God (1903)
  • A Book of Mortals (1905)
  • India (1905)
  • A Sovereign Remedy (1906)[12]
  • A Prince of Dreamers (1908)
  • India through the ages; a popular and picturesque history of Hindustan (1908)
  • King-Errant (1912)
  • The Adventures of Akbar (1913)
  • The Mercy of the Lord (1914)
  • Marmaduke (1917)
  • Mistress of Men (1918)
  • English Fairy Tales (1922)
  • A Tale of Indian Heroes (1923)
  • "Lâl"
  • A Cookery Book
  • Late Tales
  • The Curse of Eve
  • The Gift of the Gods
  • The Law of the Threshold
  • The Woman Question
  • The Garden Of Fidelity: Being The Autobiography Of Flora Annie Steel 1847–1929[13]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Brown, Susan, Patricia Clements, and Isobel Grundy (2006). "Flora Annie Steel entry: Overview screen". Orlando: Women's Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Cambridge University Press Online. Retrieved 28 November 2014.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Margaret MacMillan (2007). Women of the Raj: The Mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the Bristish Empire in India. Random House Trade Paperbacks. pp. 245–. ISBN 978-0-8129-7639-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Wikisource link to  The Indian Biographical Dictionary (1915)/Steel, Mrs. Flora Annie. Wikisource. 
  4. Orlando. Retrieved 31 October 2015
  5. Mannsaker, Frances M. (Autumn 1982). "Flora Annie Steel, Novelist of India by Violet Powell". Victorian Studies. 26 (1): 105–106. JSTOR 3827506.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Violet Powell (May 1981). Flora Annie Steel, Novelist of India. Heinemann.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Parry, Benita (April 1967). "A Star of India: Flora Annie Steel, Her Works and Times by Daya Patwardhan". The Modern Language Review. 62 (2): 324–325. JSTOR 3723865.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Daya Patwardhan (1963). A Star of India: Flora Annie Steel, Her Works and Times. Sole agents: A. V. Griha Prakashan, Poona.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. John F. Riddick (1 January 2006). The History of British India: A Chronology. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-313-32280-8.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Douglas Sladen: "Lady Authors", in: Twenty Years of My Life (London: Constable, 1915), p. 120 ff.
  11. "The Hosts of the Lord by Flora Annie Steel". The Sewanee Review. 9 (1): 101–102. January 1901. JSTOR 27528148.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Willcox, Louise Collier (April 19, 1907). "A Sovereign Remedy by Flora Annie Steel". The North American Review. 184 (613): 861–863. JSTOR 25105855.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. Meston (23 November 1929). "Flora Annie Steel". The Spectator Archive. p. 39. Retrieved 28 November 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). [https%3A%2F%2Fen.wikisource.org%2Fwiki%2F1911_Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica%2FSteel%2C_Flora_Annie "Steel, Flora Annie" ] Check |ws link in chapter= value (help). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links