La Martiniere has been a distinguished name in Indian education for more than a century; and yet few know what lies behind that name. Chandan Mitra attempts to chronicle the history of La Martiniere in a book that began as a souvenir of its Sesquicentennial and evolved into a full-fledged history.
Major-General Claude Martin, the Founder of the two La Martiniere Schools at Lucknow and Calcutta, was an adventurer who came to India and switched sides from France to Britain, but insisted nevertheless on maintaining his French nationality. His was an unusual personality, unusual as much for his eclecticism and philanthropy as for his somewhat dubious architectural taste and interest in cock-fighting. Philanthropy formed part of his character definitely, and a rather unusual philanthrophy, too. In the author’s words, ‘rare . . . are men who come to another country with the express aim of making a fortune, achieve this aim, and then leave everything behind for charity in the country of adoption.’