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
Died 12 April 1929(1929-04-12) (aged 82)
Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire, England
Occupation Writer
Nationality English
Period 19th century
Genre Children's Literature

Flora Annie Steel (2 April 1847 – 12 April 1929) was an English writer. She was the daughter of George Webster. In 1867 she married Henry William Steel, a member of the Indian civil service, and for the next twenty-two years lived in India, chiefly in the Punjab, with which most of her books are connected.

When her husband's health was weak, Flora Annie Steel looked after some of his responsibilities. She acted as school inspector and mediator in local arguments.

She 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 (1893)
  • Tales of the Punjab (1894)

Her novel On the Face of the Waters (1896) described incidents of the Indian Mutiny.

She also wrote a popular history of India. Her later works included:

  • In the permanent way, and other stories (1897)
  • Voices in the Night (1900)
  • The Hosts of the Lord (1900)[1]
  • In the Guardianship of God (1903)
  • A Sovereign Remedy (1906)[2]
  • India through the ages; a popular and picturesque history of Hindustan (1908)
  • Mistress of men : a novel (1918)

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 (1890) by William Wilson Hunter and Idolatry (1909) by Alice Perrin.[3]

Her biographers include Violet Powell[4] and Daya Patwardhan.[5]


  1. ^ "The Hosts of the Lord by Flora Annie Steel". The Sewanee Review 9 (1): 101–102. January 1901. JSTOR 27528148. 
  2. ^ Willcox, Louise Collier (April 19, 1907). "A Sovereign Remedy by Flora Annie Steel". The North American Review 184 (613): 861–863. JSTOR 25105855. 
  3. ^ John F. Riddick (1 January 2006). The History of British India: A Chronology. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 179. ISBN 978-0-313-32280-8. 
  4. ^ Mannsaker, Frances M. (Autumn 1982). "Flora Annie Steel, Novelist of India by Violet Powell". Victorian Studies 26 (1): 105–106. JSTOR 3827506. 
  5. ^ 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. 


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