The Inordinately Strange Life of Dyce Sombre: Victorian Anglo-Indian MP and a "chancery Lunatic"

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Columbia University Press, 2010 - History - 396 pages
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The descendent of German and French Catholic mercenaries, a Scots Presbyterian subaltern, and their secluded Indian wives, David Ochterlony Dyce Sombre defied all classification in the North Indian principality where he was raised. Add to these influences an adoptive mother who began as a Muslim courtesan and rose to become the Catholic ruler of a strategically-placed, cosmopolitan little kingdom, which her foster son was destined to inherit, and you have the origins of a fascinating life that reflects many of the Romantic, political, and colonial trends of a century.As heir to the throne, Sombre took great advantage of the sensuous pleasures of privilege, but he lost his kingdom to the British upon his foster mother's death. Sombre kept his mother's vast wealth but lived in foreign exile, touring India, China, and Europe. In London Sombre married the daughter of an English Protestant Viscount who was a prominent defender of slavery. He bought himself election to British Parliament but was then expelled for corruption. His treatment of his aristocratic wife led to his arrest and confinement as a "Chancery lunatic." Fleeing to France, Sombre would spend years trying to reclaim his sanity and his fortune, setting new precedents for international and medical law throughout the Anglophone world. Each rehearing in the British courts sought to establish whether Sombre was a sane Indian or a lunatic European, with doctors and jurists repeatedly clashing over definitions of sanity. Even in 1851, decades after his death, Sombre's mind and heritage continued to fuel fierce debate. In this thrilling biography, Michael H. Fisher recovers Sombre's strange story and the echoes of his case for modern conceptions of health, race, and empire.

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About the author (2010)

Joel Hass received his PhD from the University of California-Berkeley. He is currently a professor of mathematics at the University of California-Davis. He has coauthored six widely used calculus texts as well as two calculus study guides. He is currently on the editorial board of Geometriae Dedicata and Media-Enhanced Mathematics. He has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University and of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and he was a Sloan Research Fellow. Hass's current areas of research include the geometry of proteins, three dimensional manifolds, applied math, and computational complexity. In his free time, Hass enjoys kayaking.

Maurice D. Weir holds a DA and MS from Carnegie-Mellon University and received his BS at Whitman College. He is a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Applied Mathematics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Weir enjoys teaching Mathematical Modeling and Differential Equations. His current areas of research include modeling and simulation as well as mathematics education. Weir has been awarded the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal, the Superior Civilian Service Award, and the Schieffelin Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has coauthored eight books, including the University Calculus series and the twelfth edition of Thomas' Calculus.

George B. Thomas, Jr. (late) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was a professor of mathematics for thirty-eight years; he served as the executive officer of the department for ten years and as graduate registration officer for five years. Thomas held a spot on the board of governors of the Mathematical Association of America and on the executive committee of the mathematics division of the American Society for Engineering Education. His book, Calculus and Analytic Geometry, was first published in 1951 and has since gone through multiple revisions. The text is now in its twelfth edition and continues to guide students through their calculus courses. He also co-authored monographs on mathematics, including the text Probability and Statistics.

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