Books and magazines have always been an intrinsic part of train journeys. Train travel is incomplete without comics and books. You must have seen book stalls at almost all the railway stations in India. Have you ever thought about how these bookstalls got placed at stations? In this blog, we’ll be taking you in ancient times and will tell you about a European businessman who founded the book shops at railway stations.
The story dates back to 1877 when Emile Edouard Moreau was 20 years old and had set up A.H Wheeler book shops at the Allahabad railway station. During that time, Moreau was working with the managing agency named Bird & Company in Allahabad. Bird & Company was a labour contractor organisation that supplied workmen to the railway company. While working with this company, he observed that there is a high demand for books and reading materials among train passengers especially the ones who travelled in first class.
The idea of setting up a bookstall sprang up when his friend Arthur Henry Wheeler said that he had countless books in his library and wanted to sell out a few of them. Emile Moreau then took his wooden almirah which had the pile of books to Allahabad railway station. This move turned out to be a big hit among the train travellers. As Emile got a positive response from the travellers, he had set up the chain of book shops with the name of A.H Wheeler and Co. (named after his friend) in Allahabad in 1877. Soon, the book stalls got widespread across North India.
In order to provide reading journals and materials to the train passengers, Moreau had set up a printing press and also requested Rudyard Kipling to contribute some of his notable works to his book stalls. In 1888, Rudyard Kipling’s short stories then became a part of Indian Railways Library Series. Some popular publications of Indian Railways Library Series include Under the Deodars, The Story of Gadsbys, Wee Willie Winkie, The City of Dreadful Night, The Phantom Rickshaw, Soldiers Three and other eerie tales. Such books were sold at the stations for one rupee each.
About Emile Moreau
Apart from bestowing the Indian railway stations with book shops and being an influential businessman, Emile Moreau had served as a director in Trinidad Oilfields company. He had spent all his years living a “Nabob” life (a person with conspicuous wealth or high status) at Fairlie Place. Emile Edouard Moreau remained devoted to his institute, Framlingham College and had served on the governing board for many years. In addition to this, he had also set up sports and scholarships for students by its name till his death in 1937.
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