City Library – Jawaharlal Nehru’s Book Collection, Teen Murti House
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Hundreds of books have been written on India’s first prime minister. One day The Delhi Walla checked out the books that Jawaharlal Nehru kept in his home.
Millions of people have visited the Nehru Memorial Museum at Teen Murti House, the Central Delhi residence where Nehru spent 16 years as Prime Minister. The visitors look in awe at his drawing room, his study, his dining room and also the bedroom where he died. Only a few have arguably surveyed in detail a corridor that runs past his private rooms. This gallery is lined with hundreds of books Nehru acquired over the years. A random glance helps bring the man closer to us.
One is thrilled to spot Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus, a novel permeated with the world of classical music. Salim Ali’s Indian Hill Birds lies close to Dante’s The Divine Comedy. Nine Plays by Eugene O’Neill stands beside Alan Payton’s great South African novel Cry, The Beloved Country. Also spotted: Rachael Carson’s Silent Spring, a classic on environment writing. Then there’s this title: The Gay Genius.
One shelf is devoted to French novels.
Nehru’s books lie in other parts of Teen Murti, too. In his study lies Nabokov’s Lolita—and suddenly the historic figure seems just like a friend with whom one could exchange books every now and then.
The first Prime Minister as book lover