Illustrated Pursuits: a collection of drawings, published articles and maps by Walter Stanhope Sherwill, who spent a total twenty-seven years in India since he first arrived as a young man in 1834 to work for the British East India Company. He served as an ensign, Assistant Revenue Surveyor, Revenue Surveyor of what was then known as the Bengal Presidency. He held positions of Lieutenant; Captain—a position he held until 1859 when he became Major Sherwill. On his retirement in 1861 he was given the title Honourable Lieutenant Colonel.
This book was inspired by a set of 33 extraordinary pen and ink drawings sketched in India by my great-great grandfather, Walter Stanhope Sherwill. Irst saw the drawings inherited by my family in New Zealand, when I was about seven years old. I looked at them with amazement, excited to realise that one of my forebears had the skill to make such images. I also recall thinking how old and mysterious they were, especially because no one seemed to know very much about either the drawings or what they represented. Although the ragged edged paper had turned to light sepia, the drawings were still distinct and engaging, depicting exotic Indian landscapes dispersed with a range of curious landmarks —vast unusual rock formations, caverns and precipices, an ancient embedded gun, carved monuments, hot springs, enormous banyan trees—and inhabited by fascinating people sometimes shown working with large, sturdy elephants. Each drawing had a caption providing the location, date (between 1846 and 1851) and other details, neatly handwritten in a clear, cursive style. By publishing Illustrated Pursuits in Kolkata, I have had the privilege of working on this project and sharing his endeavours with descendants of the people represented in his work.