Hicky's Bengal Gazette
Bengal Gazette was an English newspaper published from Kolkata (then Calcutta), India. It was the first major newspaper in India, started in 1780. It was published for two years.
Founded by James Augustus Hicky, a highly eccentric Irishman who had previously spent two years in Jail for debt. Later on, Hicky was jailed because he earned the wrath of the then Governor-General Lord Warren Hastings. He would mostly write articles criticising the activities of Lady Hastings, Lord Hastings' wife. Hicky continued to write from jail until his movable types were seized from him under Lord Hastings' orders. Hicky's Bengal Gazette or the Calcutta General Advertiser was the first English-language newspaper, and indeed the first printed newspaper, to be published in the Indian sub-continent. The newspaper soon became very famous not only among the British soldiers posted in India at that time, it also inspired the Indians to write newspapers of their own.
It was a weekly newspaper, and was founded on January 29, 1780, in Calcutta, the capital of British India. The paper ceased publication on March 23, 1782. The memoirist William Hickey (who, confusingly, was not in fact related to the paper's founder) describes its establishment shortly after he had succeeded (in his capacity as an attorney-at-law) in having James Hicky released from debtor's gaol:
"At the time I first saw Hicky he had been about seven years in India. During his confinement he met with a treatise upon printing, from which he collected sufficient information to commence [as a] printer, there never having been a press in Calcutta....it occurred to Hicky that great benefit might arise from setting on foot a public newspaper, nothing of that kind ever having appeared. Upon his types &c., therefore reaching him, he issued proposals for printing a weekly paper, which, meeting with extraordinary encouragement, he speedily issued his first work. As a novelty every person read it, and was delighted. Possessing a fund of low wit, his paper abounded with proof of that talent. He had also a happy knack at applying appropriate nicknames and relating satirical anecdotes".
Hicky benefited little from the paper, as William Hickey further tells us that he allowed it "to become the channel of personal invective, and the most scurrilous abuse of individuals of all ranks, high and low, rich and poor, many were attacked in the most wanton and cruel manner.....His utter ruin was the consequence". The paper itself survived until the 1830s, when its circulation was exceeded by The Englishman (also published from Calcutta from 1818, and now known as The Statesman).
- The Memoirs of William Hickey Vol.II (1775-1782), London: Hurst & Blackett, 1918, p. 175.
- Hickey, Memoirs, Vol. II, p. 176.