Margaret Best Indian Album 1919-1920

Scope and Content

Album containing photographs and other material. During November 1919 - March 1920 Margaret Best visited India where a brother, the Hon. James William Best (1882-1960) was a forestry officer. She travelled on the Peninsular and Oriental ship 'Kaisar-i-Hind' which sailed from London for Bombay on 10 October 1919, probably joining it at Marseilles. It is likely that her travelling companion was Miss Barbara Villiers, daughter of Ernest Villiers, M.P. and Elaine (née Guest) sister of Lady Chelmsford, the Viceroy's wife. She appears in several photographs and was a bridesmaid to the Viceroy's daughter at her wedding in March 1920 (see 85-87). They returned from India in S.S. 'Morea', which left Bombay on 27 March. While in India Miss Best was frequently a guest at viceregal functions in Delhi and a member of the official party of the viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, on visits to other localities. The album - perhaps better described as a scrap-book - comprises snapshots, official group photographs, press cuttings, postcards, invitations, dinner party menus and table plans, and engagement diaries, all relating to the events of her stay in India and the outward and homeward voyages.
Photographs, whether snapshots, postcards or press cutting, are numbered from 1 to 103, with five additions (33a, 54a-56a and 81a) overlooked in the original numbering. Non-photographic items are not numbered. This album is more valuable for the reflection of Viceregal life in its miscellaneous items than for its photographic quality. Few of the prints are captioned, many are small and of inferior quality; postcards and items from printed works (indicated by 'from a publication') are included. There are however some interesting items; the groups, chiefly with identifications and a few larger prints.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Honourable Margaret Mary Best C.B.E. (widely known as 'Maggie') was born on 6 October 1872, the eldest daughter of Lieutenant Colonel George Best, who succeeded his cousin as 5th Baron Wynford at the age of 65 and died a year later. She was active in various local bodies in Dorset - Cottage Hospital, Red Cross, Arts and Craft - and from 1915 to 1918 was a clerk in the War Office. From November 1919 to March 1920 she visited India, where her brother was a Forestry Officer. In 1925 she became Honorary Secretary of an experimental School Empire - Tour Committee which organised a visit to Australia in 1926-27. This was sufficiently successful for a permanent Committee to be set up. The Chairman was Dr Montague J. Rendall, and Miss Best was the Honorary Secretary. This body organised 24 tours between 1927 and 1939, and 21 of these are represented by the photographs. She remained in this post until her death in 1941.

Access Information

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact mss@lib.cam.ac.uk. Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (www.lib.cam.ac.uk).

Note

Includes index.

Other Finding Aids

A catalogue of the collection can be found on ArchiveSearch.

Alternative Form Available

This collection is available on microfiche: South India, fiche number 57-58.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The original album was damaged by flood in 1974 and its contents remounted (in some cases still on the original leaves) in a new album. Many of the photographs are extremely badly faded.

Bibliography

Best's career is more fully described in: Simpson, D (ed.) (1978), 'The spirit of a lion and the appetite of a robin: Margaret Best and the School Empire Tours', The Royal Commonwealth Society, Library Notes, New Series no. 226, p.1-7.

Additional Information

This collection level description was entered by SG using information from the original typescript catalogue.

Best, Margaret Mary, 1872-1941