The queen of hills – Mussoorie has unique connection with one of the first novelist of Australia – John Lang, who spent last few years of his life in Mussoorie and died in the picturesque hill resort on 20th August 1864. Lang, who stood against the British rule in India; is also known in his vivid roles as maverick journalist, writer and barrister.
On Lang’s 149th death anniversary that falls on Tuesday, the Mussoorites remember the Australian born novelist who died at the early age of 48.
“Someone from Australia had send me a published work on John Lang and thereafter I came to know about him” shares writer Ruskin Bond, who finally settled in Mussoorie in 1964 – exactly 100 years after Lang died.
“It was difficult to locate John Lang’s grave at Camel’s Back, as it was in old section where shrubs had grown” told Ruskin Bond to HT. The Australian writer had lived from 1859-1864 in Mussoorie.
According to Ruskin, Lang mostly wrote for his newspaper – ‘Mofussilite’ – which was first published in 1845 from Calcutta and then moved to Meerut in 1859, after crisscrossing through Ambala and Agra. In fact – Mofussilite – was recognized as major English newspaper of those times.
What’s interesting about Lang that he is acknowledged as a journalist who was critical about East India Company. Ruskin Bond tells that post 1857 mutiny, Lang in England wrote petitions for Rani Laxmi Bai, the noted India freedom fighter.
The research works carried on Lang claims that he came to India when he was 25 years old. He used to write about India for Charles Dickens’ journal ‘Household Words’.
Though some reports suggests that Lang stayed at Lang stayed in the Himalayan Club in Mussoorie. However Mussoorie based writer Ganesh Saili says that it is unclear that exactly at which Bunglow John lived.
“On no account should party stop, John had reportedly said before retiring to his room, where he died” Saili said.
As a token of honour, Mussoorie based journalist Jai Prakash Uttarakhandi brings out a bilingual weekly – ‘Mafasilite’.