P. Thankappan Nair

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Parameswaran Thankappan Nair or P. Thankappan Nair (born April 30, 1933), as he is better-known, is an independent researcher, historian and Malayali author based in Calcutta, India, who has written extensively on Calcutta's history in the English language.[1] He has published 48 books.[2][3]

Personal life[edit]

PT was born in Manjapra near Kalady, Kerala in Changanattuveettil.

Career and research on Calcutta[edit]

After passing his matriculation in Alwaye, Kerala, he arrived in Calcutta in September 1955 in the Madras Mail.[3] He earned a BA and LLB at the University of Calcutta, and had started out as a typist at a salary of Rs 125. As the subject of the city was largely unexplored, he chose to write on the city, and spent the next five decades researching and writing on it as a hobby.[1]

As an outsider, his work dealt extensively with perspectives overlooked by institutional, and nationalist historians in India. In so doing he has extensively examined British social life in Calcutta, the history of Calcutta High Court, the city's taverns and hotels, and the city's south Indian diaspora.[1]

TP was the owner of large collection of rare books. It was told that the Oxford Library in United Kingdom, send him blank cheque, for buying out those books. But he chose to donate it to the Calcutta Town Hall Society.

He was honoured by Burdwan University with a D.Litt, degree.

In 1991 he announced the 300th anniversary of Calcutta city through his research.

Often known as the barefoot historian of Calcutta,[3] he still uses his 1964 Remington typewriter and lives at 82C, Kansari Road, Bhavanipur, South Kolkata.[1]


Selected books written by P. Thankappan Nair[edit]

  • First Circulating and College Libraries of Calcutta (2012)
  • Kalakātā āche kalakātātei (in Bengali) (2009)
  • Origin of the Kolkata Police (2007)
  • B.S. Kesavan: First National Librarian of India (2005)
  • South Indians in Kolkata: History of Kannadigas, Konkanis, Malayalees, Tamilians, Telugus, South Indian Dishes and Tippoo Sultan's Heirs in Calcutta (2004)
  • John Alexander Chapman: Selections from the Works of a Lover of India (2004)
  • Echoes from Belvedere: Home of National Library, Kolkata (2004)
  • Hicky and his Gazette (2001)
  • The Mango in Indian Life and Culture (1995)
  • Calcutta Tercentenary Bibliography Volumes 1 & 2 (1993)
  • British Beginnings in Bengal, 1600-1660 (1991)
  • James Prinsep: Life and Work - Volume 1 (1991)
  • Job Charnock: The Founder of Calcutta: an Anthology (1990)
  • Calcutta Bevy: A Collection of Rare Poems (1989)
  • Calcutta Municipal Corporation at a Glance (1989)
  • Indian National Songs and Symbols (1987)
  • A History of Calcutta's Streets (1987)
  • A History of the Calcutta Press, the Beginnings (1987)
  • Rainey's a Historical and Topographical Sketch of Calcutta (edited work of H. James Rainey) (1986)
  • Calcutta in the Seventeenth Century (1986)
  • Calcutta: Origin of the Name (1985)
  • Bruton's Visit to Lord Jagannatha 350 years ago (edited work of William Bruton) (1985)
  • Tribes of Arunachal Pradesh (1985)
  • Calcutta in the 18th Century (1984)
  • British Social Life in Ancient Calcutta: 1750 to 1850 (1983)
  • Marriage and Dowry in India (1978)
  • The Peacock: The National Bird of India (1977)[4][5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "This Calcutta's storyteller ..." Times News Network. indiatimes.com, 3 February 2013. Retrieved 2013-02-03. 
  2. ^ Thinking and Making:Kolkata
  3. ^ a b c Das, Soumitra (22 September 2005). "Recording angel of the city - P.T. Nair completes 50 years in calcutta". The Telegraph. Calcutta, India: telegraphindia.com, 22 September 2005. Retrieved 2013-02-04. 
  4. ^ Works of P. Thankappan Nair