Archive / Papers / Bagnall Papers


Mrs. Ruth Bagnall

Ceylon 1946 – 1949

  1. TS memoir ‘Serendipity or three happy years in Ceylon (1946-1949)’ by Ruth Randall (pseud.) Memoir of the wife of a Rubber Planter in Ceylon on the estate owned by Mr. Banff Fraser.
    • Ch. 1. Voyage out – Rough and difficult at first – immediate reaction on arrival at hotel – sight, sound and service. Describes going round the bazaar shopping, a dance in the hotel etc. Describes first impressions vividly.
    • Ch. 2. Journey to Galle – Station scene – description of arriving amid bustle and her nervousness at it all. Country scenes and scenery.
    • Ch. 3. Housekeeping at Hangaranwela: description of bungalow, garden and farm. Different servants and their work.
    • Ch. 4. Daily domestic life on the rubber plantation. Planters’ attitudes: finance.
    • Ch. 5. New car: description of Galle, shops and Planters’ Club. Social life.
    • Ch. 6. Social customs and varying social contacts. A tragic death.
    • Ch. 7. Description of bachelor planters’ bungalows and their leisure pursuits – Christmas celebrations and nostalgia. Manufacture and shipment of liquid latex beginning at this time – new venture.
    • Ch. 8. Makes pen-friend with the wife of a planter up-country. Examples of Mr. Fraser’s feudal rule of the rubber estate. Welfare of mothers and children. Anecdotes about an eccentric planter. Compares life on estate under Mr. Fraser’s control with that in a big hospital.
    • Ch. 9. Holiday during the ‘wintering’ of the rubber trees on tea estate near Kandy; rest houses, changes in climate zones; Bandarawela, hill-station – Nuwara Eliya, and Samuel Baker. Visit to Duckwari tea estate. Arrival at Kandy.
    • Ch. 10. Visit to tea-planters home with a most beautiful garden, in ideal climate of the highlands. Description of tea-garden, pickers, tea manufacture. Portuguese and Ceylon – brief historical sketch. Return to lowlands, and their more humble home.
    • Ch. 11. Contrasts her more primitive house and water supply with luxury of her hosts. Illness and servant trouble. New Year Festival and servants’ holiday.
    • Ch. 12. Historical outline of Galle.
    • Ch. 13. Venture into writing. Ceylon newspapers. Christmas in the El Pitiya district.
    • Ch. 14. Historical outline of Kandy and the Temple of the Tooth: description of town and surrounding places of interest, and terrain.
    • Ch. 15. Anglican Methodist contacts and relationships in Galle. Historical outline of the missionary activities of both denominations. Demonology. Ecumenism among Protestant denominations in 19th Century missions.
    • Ch. 16. Outline of the early history of Ceylon. Leave-taking of Galle.
    • Ch. 17. Visit to the buried Cities of Ceylon, and historical description. Leave Ceylon.
  2. Poem ‘Goodbye?’ by W.S. Senior. Illustration to accompany memoir, and maps of Galle and Anaradharpura
  3. Books on indefinite loan (all now removed to archive books collection): –
    1. Still, John, The Jungle-Tide. Blackwood & Sons Ltd. 1945. (First ed. 1930) Essays on Ceylon wild life.
    2. Mendis, G.C., Ceylon today and yesterday. Main currents of Ceylon history. Colombo, Assoc. Newspaper of Ceylon Ltd., 1963 (First ed. 1957). Essays on Ceylon history and politics.
    3. Spittel, R.L., Wild Ceylon. Describing in particular the lives of the present day Veddas. Colombo, 1945