The Fishing Fleet

The Fishing Fleet

Husband-hunting in the Raj

Book - 2014
Average Rating:
Rate this:

By the late nineteenth century, Britain's colonial reign seemed to know no limit--and India was the sparkling jewel in the Imperial crown. Many of Her Majesty's best and brightest young men departed for the Raj to make their careers, and their fortunes, as bureaucrats, soldiers, and businessmen. But in their wake they left behind countless young ladies who, suddenly bereft of eligible bachelors, found themselves facing an uncertain future. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, some of these women decided to follow suit and abandon their native Britain for India's exotic glamour and--with men outnumbering women by roughly four to one in the Raj--the best chance they had at finding a husband.

Drawing on a wealth of firsthand sources, including unpublished memoirs, letters, photographs, and diaries, Anne de Courcy brings the incredible world of "the Fishing Fleet," as these women were known, to life. In these sparkling pages, she describes the glittering whirlwind of dances, parties, tennis tournaments, tiger shoots, and palatial banquets that awaited in the Raj, all geared toward the prospect of romance. Most of the girls were away from home for the first time, and they plunged headlong into the heady dazzle of expatriate social life; marriages were frequent. However, after the honeymoon many women were confronted with a reality that was far from the fairy tale they'd been chasing.

Rich with drama and color, The Fishing Fleet is a sumptuous, utterly compelling real-life saga of adventure, romance, and heartbreak in the heyday of the British Empire.

Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, 2014.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9780062290083
Characteristics: ix, 335 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 24 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 20, 2015

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's a fascinating look at the English rule of India in the mid 1860's through the early 1900's. It describes life in India via diaries and journals of English women looking to get married by looking at military prospects in India.
On the other hand, it gets repetitive. This would have been a really, really good magazine article, but it gets old as a book. Too many of the stories are similar, making the overall book kind of boring in totality, but interesting in snippets.

BCD2013 May 06, 2014

An anecdote-rich account of the Victorian women who traveled nearly 5000 miles to find husbands—namely Englishmen serving as officers in the British Army or in the Indian Civil Service, whose positions and salaries made them prime catches. However, even if the women were successful in securing a husband (and many weren’t) , the oppressive heat, illness, bouts of loneliness and the constant uprooting of households made their lives not quite the success story they were hoping for.

Diell Jan 28, 2014

re: Well researched possibly but she sure left a lot out, and I'm not sure about well written, if so you wouldn't have been so disappointed, I sure was, BBC was so effusive, always. I gave this book a low rating, but it's an interesting place in time, she drove me crazy though, she was all over the place, she'd be writing about someone then switch centuries, then they'd pop up in the book later, in 3 or 4 different chapters Time warp? a tear in the space continuum? just got bits and bites, that's for donuts not books, really annoying. The world of the Fishing Fleet shaped a country(or warped it ) the effects are still being felt, some good stuff here, probably the best thing to do is to keep track of names thru the book and go on a treasure hunt for diaries, probably quite a few, see back of book, she's always good at listing her sources... A good place to find something to read?... ............................................ Dear ser_library & happycanuck If you were interested in this book you might enjoy Bombay Anna, I'd love to tell the very interesting twists in Anna's story but I should leave that for you, such pretty little tidbits to find.

ser_library Sep 23, 2013

disappointed that there was no discussion about women in the 18th century... eg Philadelphia Austen who married Saul Hancock and may have had Warren Hastings child.

i read the first few chapters and stopped when the stories seemed repetitious

May 04, 2013

Well researched and written but boring with its endless listings of female after female going to India to find a husband. By its nature, there are no central characters, just a few paragraphs on each person cobbled together from bits of diaries etc.

MsMicawber Dec 16, 2012

A really entertaining and fascinating book.. It's filled with excerpts from the letters & diaries of Fishing Fleet ladies as well as first-person accounts from those that the De Courcy was able to interview. There's lots of romance, some tragedy, adventure, laughs...and the nitty-gritty details of what it was like to live in pre-industrial India. Great book!


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at KCLibrary

To Top