Veteran author zooms in on Mahatma’s disciple Miraben, book in the pipeline

Thomas Weber, an Australian scholar and writer who has written several books on Mahatma Gandhi, is camping at the Gujarat Vidyapith here, working on a book on British national Madeleine Slade, popularly known as Miraben, one of the most famous disciples of Gandhi.

The book, which is yet to be entitled, is based on correspondence between Gandhi and Miraben. Along with Weber, city-based Gandhian scholar Tridip Suhrud is also editing the book which will be ready for publishing in a month. Weber is an associate professor in La Trobe University in Melbourne and an expert on peace studies and non-violent activism.

The book deals with 80 letters written by Slade to Gandhi which are in the possession of Sabarmati Ashram. According to Weber, there are more than 700 such letters written by Slade to Gandhi but most of them are "missing".

Weber, who has been coming to Ahmedabad for the last 30 years, has written extensively on Gandhi.

The 62-year-old Weber, who has already written a book Going Native: Gandhi's relationship with western women, finds Miraben as a strange but a strong personality. She never married and came to Gandhi because she wanted to be with him.

"Gandhi somewhere called her a whole-hogger. She was so strange a personality that she never fitted in the British cocktail parties. This adds a lot of colour...what it means to be a woman in the movement! She is a real wealth of information," says Weber, who is in Ahmedabad working on the book.

According to Weber, Miraben was incredibly adventurous and brave. She was the most popular woman in the world when she accompanied Gandhi for the round-table conference in Britain in 1931.

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