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Book review: Hurree Jamset Ram Singh in the Billy Bunter books

I wonder if anyone else on here was as conflicted about the character Hurree Jamset Ram Singh of the Billy Bunter books, he of the supposedly sage and incomprehensible pronouncements like “the wishfulness of the jug that goes to the well is terrific.“

Apart from the confusion regarding that name, which inferred the character was of mixed Hindu/Parsi/Sikh lineage, Hurree was the `Nabob of Bhanipur,` which meant he was also of Muslim extraction….!!

I always wondered if Frank Richards (one of Charles Hamilton`s pen names) , was being English ie, snarky, maybe downright nasty, about the colonial student at the tony public school Greyfriars in some verdant part of ye olde England (apparently, Kent).

Considering Hurree was a well-liked member of Harry Wharton`s Famous Five set, did well academically under Quelch`s eagle eye, and played a mean game of cricket besides, it seemed more an awkward bid at getting laughs than any aforethought malice on the author`s part.

Hurree`s nickname in the Remove, Inky, was decidedly `off.` But he was more popular at the school than the central character the Fat Owl, the Frabjous Ass, the Footling, William George Bunter.

And so I continued devouring all the Billy Bunter books I could lay my hands on, continued wincing as well as chuckling at Hurree`s silly style of speech.

And then, some years ago, there was a clean-up of the Billy Bunter books. No more `six of the best`, no more too colourful epithets, and no more did the word `Inky` appear. Also, Hurree now spoke the Queen`s English to the manner/manor born.

And that`s when I realised how much I actually enjoyed that character`s strange sayings, and political correctness be damned.

Hurree Jamset Ram Singh aside, the books are a riot. Read them if you haven`t already. Re-read them, if you are a BB fan.


Billy BunterFrank RichardsGreyfriars SchoolHurree Jamset Ram SinghIndian characterIndian student in a British public schoolNabob of Bhanipurpolitically incorrect

Sheila Kumar • April 22, 2020

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  1. Robert Magson July 27, 2021 - 1:20 pm Reply

    Thank you for this, the only meaningful reference Google can find me to Huree Jamset Ram Singh. Your analysis is spot on. I was born in 1945 into the English middle class and read the stories with great affection as a pre teen at a boarding school far from home. I completely failed to realise the unconscious prejudice I was absorbing from my reading. For years afterwards, occasionally my sister or I would sometimes say, ‘the …fullness of something is terrific’ and the other returned a knowing glance, acknowledging the allusion. I guess we live on opposite sides of the world and are not destined to meet but I have very much enjoyed sharing your thoughts. Regards. Robert

  2. Sheila Kumar March 1, 2022 - 6:26 am Reply

    Thank you, Robert.

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