F. E. Penny

(Fanny Emily Farr Penny)

In This Collection

Other Works by Fanny Emily Penny (1847–1939)

  • Love by an Indian River. London: Chatto & Windus, 1916.
  • A Love Tangle. London: Chatto & Windus, 1917.
  • Missing. London: Chatto & Windus, 1917.
  • Desire and Delight. London: Chatto & Windus, 1919.
  • Diamonds. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1920.
  • The Rajah’s Daughter. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1921.
  • The Swami’s Curse. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1922.
  • Living Dangerously. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925.
  • A Question of Colour. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1926.
  • A Question of Love. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1928.
  • Get on the Wooing. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1931.
  • Patrick. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1934.
  • The Old Dagoba. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1934.
  • The Elusive Bachelor. London: Hutchinson, 1935.
  • A Spell of the Devil. London: Hutchinson, 1935.
  • The Familiar Stranger. London: Hutchinson, 1936.
  • Chowra’s Revenge. London: Hutchinson, 1937.
  • Treasure, Love and Snakes. London: Mills and Boon, 1938.
  • Jackals and Others. London: Mills and Boon, 1939.



Mrs. F. E. Penny

Novelist of Life in India

Mrs. Fanny Emily Penny, the novelist of life in India, died at Park Hill, Ealing, W., on December 22 at the age of 91.

Born at Covehithe, near Dunwich, Suffolk, on December 29, 1847, she was the daughter of the Rev. John Farr and Emily Caroline Cobbold, and grand-niece of the Rev. Richard Cobbold, author of “The History of Margaret Catchpole.” On June 21, 1877, she was married to the Rev. Frank Penny, who was appointed in that year a chaplain on the Madras Ecclesiastical Establishment. Her husband, who died in 1928, was a cultivated man who is still remembered for his history of the Church in Madras. Her arrival in India synchronized with a period of famine, which, indeed, became known as the Great Famine Year, and her experiences during that time were incorporated in several of her books. Sir Charles Lawson, the editor and proprietor of the Madras Mail. gave her her first commission to write articles dealing with phases of Indian life. In 1888 Mr. Penny was transferred to the Nilgiri Hills as chaplain to the military station at Wellington, and Mrs. Penny met there the late Mrs. B. M. Croker, to whose encouragement and example she owed her beginning as a novelist. She possessed a gift of sympathy and understanding, observation, and humour, which, with her long residence in India, enabled her to draw the pictures of the complexity, colour, and character of Oriental life. Her first novel, “Caste and Creed,” which appeared in two-volume form in 1891, was followed by more than 30 others, among the best known being “The Forest Officer,” “Sanyasi,” a story of an Indian religious fanatic who leads a double life, “A Mixed Marriage,” in which she shows the drawbacks of such unions in India, “The Outcaste,” “A Question of Colour,” and “Magic in the Air.” The scene of several is laid in Ceylon. Her later books were “The Old Dagoba” (1934): “Patrick,” “The Elusive Bachelor,” and “A Spell of the Devil” (1935); “The Familiar Stranger” (1936) “Chowra’s Revenge” (1937); “Treasure, Love and Snakes” (1938); and “Jackal and Others” (1939). She also wrote a history of Fort St. George, “On the Coromandel Coast,” a book of sketches, and a book on Southern India.

Her husband retired early in the present century, and settled at Ealing. where he and his wife had many friends. They had a son and a daughter. Mrs. Penny was well known to many members of the Writers’ Club, and for some years was actively identified with the Girl Guides movement, both nationally and locally.

(The Times, 27 December 1939, p. 9.)

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Mrs F E Penny

Mrs Fanny Emily Penny who has died at the age of 91 was the author of more than thirty novels dealing with life in India. The first was “Caste and Creed” published in 1891. Among the best known are “The Forest Officer,” “Sanyasi,” “A Mixed Marriage,” “The Outcaste,” “A Question of Colour,” and “Magic in the Air”. She had excellent gifts of observation and humour which she exploited to the utmost during her long residence in India. She first went to India in 1877 when her husband the Rev Frank Penny was appointed a chaplain on the Madras Ecclesiastical Establishment. In addition to novels Mrs Penny wrote other works including a history of Fort St George. Her last book was “Jackal and Others” which was published this year.

(Times Literary Supplement, 30 December 1939, p. 755.)

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Penny, Fanny Emily (Farr), 1847-1939., novelist and travel writer, da. of Emily Caroline (Cobbold) and the Rev. John F., Rector of Gillingham, Norfolk. She m. the Rev. Frank P. in 1877, then lived in India till 1901. Her two travel books and almost all of her score of novels, from Fickle Future in Ceylon, 1887, through Dark Corners 1908, to Desire and Delight, 1919, owe their inspiration and setting to that country. Although some of her novels feature Indians who have romantic friendships with English characters, she quotes Kipling’s ‘east is east and west is west’ and persistently reminds her readers that miscegenation can only lead to tragedy. Her travel books rarely progress beyond the level of ‘India is a land of contrasts’ and she never understands protests against Britain’s ‘benevolent’ rule. Her novels follow the conventions of the popular romance with strong silent men (one hero even has his tongue cut out) and adoring women. However, the heroines emerge as competent, fit and sporty, courageous, educated, sometimes even gainfully employed, with a sense of humour and a discreet amount of sexual assertiveness. Her animated and outspoken heroines almost redeem the novels, but as one of them confesses: ‘those who have never tried it can have no notion of the difficulty a soft-voiced, refined woman finds in making a noise which is worthy of the name shouting.’

(The Feminist Companion to Literature in English: Women Writers from the Middle Ages to the Present. New Haven: Yale UP. p. 844.)