THE LIVES OF FREDA: THE BLOG
The Lives of Freda is reviewed in today's issue of the Jammu-based paper the Daily Excelsior - the reviewer is Ramesh Tamiri, a very considerable expert on Kashmir and particularly the progressive strand within Kashmiri politics. As you would expect, the review focusses on Freda and B.P.L. Bedi's political activity in Kashmir, and the left-wing current within Kashmiri nationalism that they championed. Ramesh Tamiri is himself writing about the history of the Kashmiri left.
Here's the link to the review: https://www.dailyexcelsior.com/bedis-s-kashmir-connection/?fbclid=IwAR13pduAXotKJvsR4LFqU-bmxc3wLpqa4DJXtG2xapC7kzjn-O2jdZ7ZCh4
The hosts of the launch, the Oxford Bookstore, have posted more photos of the event on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BxpVm2TnWx2/?igshid=1cis7b54lax0j
Here's the review of The Lives of Freda in the news magazine India Today. Geeta Doctor is the reviewer:
'This well-written, extensively researched work — interviews with friends and family (including her son Kabir Bedi, the actor), combined with the scrutiny of correspondence, tape recordings, newspaper archives— makes for an insightful, riveting tale of a life extraordinaire.'
That's from a review of The Lives of Freda in today's New Indian Express: http://www.newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/books/2019/apr/21/woman-extraordinaire-1966289.html
This was truly a labour of love. When romance stirred between B.P.L. Bedi and Freda Houlston, fellow students at Oxford, their joint endeavour to track down Karl Marx's newspaper articles about India cemented their relationship. They spent many hours in the reading room of the British Museum seeking out and copying down Marx's writings.
A couple of years after moving to Lahore, the couple undertook the first publication in book form of Marx's articles on India. It was a conspicuous contribution towards the growing interest in Marxism in South Asia.
My own copy of Letters on India - I can't remember how I got it, but I think from a second-hand bookshop in Gurgaon - bears the ownership signature of Rajani Palme Dutt. He was a prominent British communist who had particular responsibility for guidance - intellectual and strategic - of the Indian communist movement. There's some underlining in the text, mainly in red crayon, but no waspish comments or other sotto voce marginal notes.
At the time the Bedis brought out Marx's Letters on India they were publishing a particularly impressive progressive quarterly. Contemporary India also touched on Marx and Marxism. There's a complete set of the journal in - of course - the British Library.
The news magazine The Week has just published a favourable review of The Lives of Freda, describing the biography as a 'vivid portrayal of [Freda's] life and choices' - the link to the piece is here: https://www.theweek.in/theweek/leisure/2019/04/12/the-lives-of-freda-review-vivid-portrayal-of-a-remarkable-life.html
The Millennium Post has published a sizable extract from The Lives of Freda - with an enticing array of images.
Here's Freda Bedi in her own voice. In the mid-1970s, while visiting her son Ranga in Calcutta, Freda - by then Sister Palmo - sat down with a cassette recorder and told the story of the first three decades or so of her life. This is a two minute extract from those tapes, describing how she first met her husband-to-be B.P.L. Bedi more than forty years earlier, when they were both students at Oxford.
There's no trace here of a regional accent - indeed, if anything Freda has an 'Oxford' or establishment accent. She wouldn't have grown up speaking in this manner, so I imagine that at Oxford - as with so many northern students at this time - she tutored herself our of her East Midlands lilt.
It is wonderful to be able to hear her voice - it's such an insight into character. And even though this is a brief extract, with the sound quality touched up to make it more clearly audible, you do get a sense of Freda's personality.
The Lives of Freda
- a blog about my biography of Freda Bedi