Category Archives: Telegraph

The last telegram in India

201082_india-telegraph-maury-catalogue-oneThe telegraphy system in India is coming to an end in July 2013, reports The Christian Science Monitor:

At the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), India's state-owned telecom company, a message emerges from a dot matrix printer addressing a soldier's Army unit in Delhi. "GRANDMOTHER SERIOUS. 15 DAYS LEAVE EXTENSION," it reads. It's one of about 5,000 such missives still being sent every day by telegram – a format favored for its "sense of urgency and authenticity," explains a BSNL official.

But the days of such communication are numbered: BSNL will send its last telegram message somewhere in India on July 14.

The history of the telegraph in India goes back to Dr William Brooke O'Shaughnessy, an Irish physician who linked Calcutta and Diamond Harbour via cable in 1853.

More reading: Economic Times on 160 years of Indian telegraph history; DNA India on modern alternatives to the telegram.

In my reading queue: "Connecting the Nineteenth-Century World", a ferociously expensive book on the 19th century telegram; and Richard Menke's "Telegraphic Realism: Victorian Fiction and Other Information Systems" making its way home via Melcat.

Postage stamp images from the Arthur Maury Album and Catalogue of Postage Stamps and Telegraph Stamps, 1894, Paris, via StampCommunity.

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The telegraph in literature

At one point I had a whole blog devoted to collecting information about the telegraph; it’s still there, but dormant. Ah, passing interests.

Along the way, I got this suggestion, which I share:

“If you’re looking for “telegraph literature” (i.e. stories involving telegraphs) then you should certainly read “The Telegraph Girl” by Anthony Trollope and an accompanying article “The Young Women at the London Telegraph Office” and then Kipling’s story “Wireless.” “

There is certainly more, which I may add to here from time to time, suggestions welcomed.