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Marianne Postans

Postans, Marianne née Ridgway, later Young, 1811—1897

Marianne Postans, later Young, was born Marianne Ridgway on 4 January 1811, the only child of Richard Bowling Hunter Ridgway (1787-1870) and Elizabeth Ridgway, née Sturgeon (1771-1848). She was raised in London, though little is known at present of her formative years.

At the age of 22 on 9 February 1833, at St. George, Hanover Square, she married Thomas Postans (1808-1846), an ensign in the 15th regiment of the Bombay native infantry, who would rise to Captain by the time of his death. By 4 March they set sail bound for Bombay on the H.C.S. Farquharson and arrived later that year. In 1834, her husband was posted to Cutch, a western district of present-day Gujarat, India, and there she gathered the notes and made the drawings that would form the basis for her first publication, Cutch; or, Random Sketches, Taken during a Residence in One of the Northern Provinces of Western India; Interspersed with Legends and Traditions, published in 1839. Encouraged by the reception of that book, she published shortly after a 2-volume account of her residence in India, Western India in 1838 (1839), again accompanied by her own drawings and broadening considerably her geographical and ethnological purview to include Bombay, the Deccan, Surat, and the Saurashtra peninsula. Her second book also received plaudits, the reviewer for the Literary Gazette calling her ‘one of the most intelligent lady-travellers and pleasant lady-writers of the day’.

Having made a name for herself, ‘Mrs. Postans’ frequently published travel sketches and tales in the pages of the Asiatic Review between 1839 and 1844, collecting many of them in her third book, Facts and Fictions, Illustrative of Oriental Character (1844). By then her husband had turned author, too, with his Hints to Cadets […] of the Honourable East-India Company (1842) and Personal Observations on Sindh (1844), and their works were advertised side-by-side, extensively in The India Mail for July 1844. This flurry of publication took place in London as Marianne Postans’s husband had taken an extended leave of absence (their journey to England was likely to have been in part, at least, overland, as Marianne Postans includes sketches of Egypt and Switzerland in Facts and Fiction). However, by 1845 they were back in India, Thomas Postans being readmitted to active service. Upon his sudden death in 1846, however, Marianne Postans returned to England once more.

In 1848, Postans married an East-India Company surgeon and widower, William Henry Young (1787-1879). In 1854, during the Crimean War, Marianne Young travelled with her husband via Malta to the British military camps on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey and in Varna, where she attended the sick. On her return later that year, she published Our Camp in Turkey and the Way to It about this journey. Aldershot, and All about It, with Gossip, Literary, Military, and Pictorial (1857), her account of a military camp and its environs back at home, followed. Her last book, The Moslem Noble: His Land and People (1857) turned once more to the matter of her India experiences and was dedicated to ‘my Indian friends among whom some of the happiest of my years were spent’.

Marianne Young retired with her husband to Wrington, Somerset. She died there on 6 October 1897, having survived her husband by some 18 years.

Sources:

The Indian Mail, a Monthly Register for British and Foreign India, China, and Australasia; Published on the Arrival of Each Overland Mail, no. 15 (London, Fri., 5 July 1844).

Malone, Edward A. 'Marianne Postans'. DLB 166: 304-9.

‘Passengers to India’. Asiatic Journal 10 (April 1833): 177.

Raza, Rosemary Cargill. ‘Young, Marianne (1811–1897)’. ODNB.

Review of Western India in 1838, by Mrs. Postans. The Literary Gazette, no. 1192 (Sat., 23 Nov. 1839): 737.

Texts

Title Published
Cutch; or, Random Sketches 1839
Western India in 1838 1839

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