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Dinah Mulock Craik’s The Half-Caste concerns the coming-of-age of its title character, the mixed-race Zillah Le Poer, daughter of an English merchant and an Indian princess. Sent back to England as a young girl, Zillah has no knowledge that she is an heiress. She lives with her uncle Le Poer, his wife, and two daughters, and is treated as little more than a servant in the household. Zillah’s situation is gradually improved when Cassandra Pryor is employed as a governess to the Le Poer daughters and takes an interest in the mysterious “cousin.” Craik explores issues of gender, race, and empire in the Victorian period in this compact and gripping novella.
Along with a newly-annotated text, this Broadview edition includes a critical introduction that discusses Craik’s involvement with contemporary racial and imperialist attitudes, her place within the broader genre of Anglo-Indian fiction, and the importance of Zillah Le Poer as a positive symbol of empire. The edition is also enriched with relevant contemporary contextual material, including Dinah Mulock Craik’s writing on gender and female employment, British views on the biracial Eurasian community in India, and writings on the Victorian governess.