Edward Hamilton Aitken – A Nature Writer in the Indian Countryside

A low resolution black-and-white image of a bald man with a beard and kindly smile sitting at a desk with pen held in his right hand.

Edward Hamilton Aitken

One of the finest examples of nature writing is surely that of ‘EHA’. Edward Hamilton Aitken (1851-1909) was born in India, lived and taught in Bombay and Pune and also served in Kharaghoda (Gujarat), Ratnagiri, Uran and North Kanara as a government servant.

EHA had a keen eye for nature, whether unusual or common-place, and a delightful turn of phrase. His nature missives tell much about the man – his keen sense of observation, his delight in the small secrets that nature reveals, his wry sense of humour. Today, his work is in the public domain and one can download copies of his books from the internet. Penguin India has now come up with reprints of two books – his best , namely ‘A Naturalist on the Prowl’ and ‘The Tribes on my Frontier’. Slim, beautifully produced, hard-bound volumes costing a measly Rs 225/- each, these are invaluable additions for anyone who maintains a small and discerning collection of wildlife books. He ranks amongst the great nature-writers in India.

As my friend Shyamal said “Books with tiny illustrations are often good reading” – EHA’s books prove this new adage to be true!

Since there is a delightful review of Eha on Wikipedia, let me lighten my load, good reader and take you to meet him over there.

You can of course download his work from the following links :

1. Books by E.H. Aitken at Project Gutenberg and
2. Books by E.H. Aitken at www.archive.org.

or you can visit “My online library”.

Opening page of ''The Tribes on my Frontier''

Opening page of ''The Tribes on my Frontier''

In this blog, you will find two of my tributes to him – a small piece of humour below, which I wrote,  fully charged, when I had just finished reading his ‘Tribes on my Frontier’ and for which, as a tribute to him, I kept the same title .

The second (since published here) is a chapter of ‘Naturalists on the Prowl’ reproduced with his illustrations but with some of my photos, and hopefully some other people’s too, on the prosaic group of animals called ‘crabs’.

Expect to find more exposures to nature writers on this blog. With these small ‘plugs’ I encourage you to enjoy their work and hope to accordingly increase your love for nature.

A starling with tail cocked high follows a blackbird with tail tucked in.

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3 Comments on “Edward Hamilton Aitken – A Nature Writer in the Indian Countryside”

  1. Len Buchanan Says:

    He had a brother Benjamin. What is known of him?

  2. abhinav chawla Says:

    A good piece Sir.Hope to these buy soon.. As soon as they come on Flipkart. 😉


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