Oswald Couldrey

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Oswald Jennings Couldrey (1882–1958) was a British artist, poet and author.


The son of Frederick Knight Couldrey of Abingdon, Oswald Couldrey attended Abingdon School and Pembroke College, Oxford. He entered the Indian Civil Service, education branch, and became Principal of Government Arts College, Rajahmundry from 1909. He was 27 years when joined as Principal in Arts College, Rajahmundry. Based on this fact his year of birth is arrived as 1872. Historian Digavalli Venkata Siva Rao(1898-1992) who studied in Rajahmundry between 1910-1916 and his friend and favourite student of Mr. Couldrey, Adivi Bapiraju and a few others wrote about him in Telugu.,,[1][2][3][4] Mr. Couldrey had to resign from his job in 1919 owing to problems of eye sight and hearing. He went away to England in 1920. He died on 24 July 1958.

Literary work[edit]

He established the Andhra School of Indian Arts and guided several Telugu artists and poets such as Damerla Rama Rao, Adivi Bapiraju and Kavikondala Venkata Rao.

In watercolour he painted many evocative Indian and Abingdon scenes. He was author of

  • The Mistaken Fury (1914)
  • Thames and Godaveri (1920)
  • South Indian Hours (1924)
  • Triolets and Epigrams (1948?)
  • The Phantom Waterfall (1949)
  • Sonnets of East and West (1951)
  • Verses over Fifty Years (1958).

Wagtails on the River is one of his triolets.

Out of the reeds a wagtail flew,
And then another three or four;
And every time that I said "Shoo",
Out of the reeds a wagtail flew.
When I had counted twenty-two
I said, "There can't be any more."
Out of the reeds a wagtail flew;
And then another three or four,

He dedicated his book 'South Indian Hours'which was published in England in 1924 to his three favourite students:Adivi Bapiraju, Kavikondala Venkatarao and Damarla Venkata Ramarao. In that book he paid rich tributes to Telugu language "our Indian neighbours conscious of vague but proud tradition of ancient empire prefer to speak of Andhra Country. They talk Telugu, the northernmost and farthest spread and sweetest sounding of four great Dravidian languages".[5] After Adivi Bapiraju died in September 1952, Mr. Couldrey wrote an article on him titled as "Memories of Adivi Bapirazu" This article in Triveni July 1953. Mr. Couldrey's article on Ajanta which was published in Geographical magazine was translated into Telugu and was published in Bharathi magazine.[6]

Extra curricular activities of Mr Couldrey[edit]

He was popular with the students of the college, and he made friends with all sorts of people in the town. He loved river Godavari and was a good horseman and was often seen riding his horse on the shore of river or at outskirts of the town leading into forests. Some young men of the town used to join him, among them were Vadrevu Venkata Narasimharao and Davuluri Prasada Rao. He was a good swimmer and would plunge into the Godavari river and swim across it. He was also a great sportsman and encouraged his students to take part in many kind of manly sports such as horse riding, swimming, excursions, mountaineering, cricket, Foot Ball, Hokey and tennis. He introduced the game of paper chase to be played in moonlight. Mr. Couldrey liked music, poetry, paintng and fine arts and was himself a musician, poet and painter. He was soon attracted by the artistic aspects of Andhra culture. His famous drawing of 'gangireddu' (bullock play on a Hindu festival day)was published in 'Andhra Sarvaswamu'. Many other folk plays like puppet show, street dramas etc. He picked up lot of Telugu by careful listening of conversations, and folk songs. Hindu Threatrical Company used to send him complementary tickets for the dramas enacted by them. Mr. Couldrey gladly attended these dramas to make friends with the actors and Mr. A.S. Ram, the artist who used to draw scenery on the screen.

Prominent contemporaries of Mr. Couldrey[edit]

In those days joining Indian Educational Service ( I.E.S) was a tough and competitive for natives. Even then they were offered junior level posts in the Colleges. During the times when Mr. Couldrey was Principal among those who entered I E S and worked in the Rajahmundry Government college were S. Radhakrishnan who came there on transfer from Presidency College in 1916 in Philosophy Department, Vissa Apparao in Physics Department, Vaddadi Subbarayadu in Telugu Department came there from the training college. All of them subsequently became famous and were well noted in their respective line of specializations. After he went away to England in 1920, Mr. Couldrey wrote to one of his erstwhile students about meeting his ex-colleague, S.Radhakrishnan in Oxford in 1927. Vaddadi Subbarayadu was a famous poet, he wrote Bhaktha Chintamani which went through 8 editions by 1919. Vissa Apparao later became Principal of Andhra University College, Waltair, and also compiled and edited famous volume of Thyagaraja kirthanalu of 1948 edition.[1]


  1. ^ a b Memoirs of Digavalli Venkata Sivararao (1974) unpublished Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Sivarao(1974)" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  2. ^ Kinnera: Madras(October 1950)"Oswald Couldrey Guruvu" by Adavi Bapiraju in Telugu
  3. ^ Andhra Prabha (1958) "Oswald Couldrey" by M.Raja in Telugu
  4. ^ Silver Jubilee Souvenir of Chennapuri Andhra Mahasabha 1901-1941"Tenugu Biddavu...." by Kavikondala Venkatarao
  5. ^ Chennapuri Andhra Mahasabha Silver Jubilee Souvenir 1916-1941 "Telugu biddavu Evarikitheesipoduvu" by Kavikondala Venkata rao
  6. ^ Ajanta by Oswald J. Couldrey (1937) Translation Bharathi. November 1937 pp677-678