Mahatma Gandhi letter collection

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  • A major collection of letters from and relating to Mohandes Karamchand Gandhi 
  • 31 letters in total - six bearing Gandhi's signature 
  • 12 in English, 19 in Gandhi’s native Gujurati  

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) is celebrated as the father of modern India. Gandhi trained as a lawyer in London. On a posting to South Africa he experienced intense racism. He pushed back. On returning to India in 1915 he became a leader in the Indian nationalist movement. Gandhi insisted on non-violent means to effect change. Over time his influence among ordinary Indians grew.  

He renounced all worldly possessions, wearing only a simple cotton dhoti (loincloth). The British did all they could to destroy his influence. He spent years in prison. Finally on August 15, 1947, after almost 300 years of colonial control, India declared independence. Gandhi did not live to see the first free elections. A Hindu nationalist assassinated him as he walked to a prayer meeting in New Delhi in January 1948. Gandhi remains a figurehead for independence movements the world over. 

This is a major collection of letters, including a number in the hand of MK Gandhi. They span the breadth of Gandhi's career, from the early 1900s to the years after his death. 12 of the letters are in English, while 19 are in Gujurati.  

The paper on which Gandhi writes tells the story of his life and career. One is headed with his old address in Johannesburg, which would date it to between 1903 and 1913, making it one of the oldest Gandhi letters on the market. 

Among the recipients are Gandhi’s secretary Shuaib Qureshi and the Nawab of Bhopal - Hamidullah Khan. The collection includes a reply from Hamidullah Khan.  

The content is often deeply personal with Gandhi offering messages of condolence, thoughts on inter-party disputes and even complaints about demanding houseguests. Sometimes he signs MK Gandhi. Often he signs “Bapu” (“Father”) the honorific his disciples used for him.  

Gandhi is of fundamental importance to modern Indian history. Demand is rising as India’s wealth rises and a burgeoning class of collectors seeks artefacts connected with the father of the nation.  

You can explore the full collection here 

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