Archive / Papers / Hawkes Papers


Mrs Mirabel Hawkes grew up in Ceylon where her father was a planter on the Devon Tea Estate. In 1934 she married William Bruce, a tea planter until 1939, who was killed in the invasion of France in 1944. She remarried in 1946 James Hawkes who worked for Gordon Frazers Agency House in Colombo and on various tea estates. They left Ceylon around 1956.

Papers given by Mrs Hawkes.

  1. Memoir: Pearls, Palms and Riots’. A high spirited and uninhibited account of life in Ceylon in the years before independence. There are full descriptions of the countryside and jungle, the rivers and natural life. Mrs Hawkes’ memoir begins with her recollections of the island just after World War I. Following her education in Britain she returned, aged 17, to enjoy a hectic and exciting social life. She describes the work involved in setting up home after her first marriage and the various activities in which she became involved, including Secretary of an up-country hockey team.World War II in Britain involved many privations and considerable unhappiness but Mrs Hawkes was able to return to Ceylon in 1946 with her second husband and with renewed hopes for the future. She did not take to life in Colombo and they soon moved to the same District in which her first husband had served and the same Club where he had been Secretary. With the passage of time Mr Hawkes became a senior planter in charge of three divisions – Bridwell, Lynsted and Bogawana. The account concludes with a description of a visit by the Queen to Sri Lanka and mention of the onset of Sinhalese-Tamil disturbances. 85pp.
  2. File of miscellaneous papers largely relating to Mr Hawkes’ holdings in Gordon Frazer and Co. and the representation of British planters’ interests in Sri Lanka. Includes 3pp. of notes on Ceylon Clubs.