Gandhi in Britain
Seventy years after his death, Yasmin Khan argues that Mahatma Gandhi’s attitudes to imperialism and class were heavily shaped by his visits to Britain
On the afternoon of 27 October 1888, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a shy 18-year-old, stepped foot on British soil for the first time, after a long sea voyage from Bombay. Gandhi had never been to a big city before and, as he made his way to the Victoria Hotel in London from Tilbury Docks, he was stunned by the grandeur, the electric lights and by the experience of going in a lift – a contraption that he had never seen and did not know how to use. “I was quite dazzled by the splendour of the hotel. I had never in my life seen such pomp.” He was also excited to finally reach the heart of the British empire and recorded that he was “all the time smiling within myself”.