Jim Corbett - Biography
The legend of Jim Corbett is still alive, not only in the minds and hearts of the
people of Kumaon & Garhwal, but also all over the world. His six books, which are
the nearest to his autobiographies, have never been out of print. There are four
biographies on him and three films on his life have already been made.
Edward James Corbett was born on 25thJuly 1875 of nglish ancestory in Nainital.
He lived in Gurney House in Nainital for the greater part of his life with the last
of his large family, his mother Mary Jane Corbett and his sister Margaret Winfred
Corbett, fondly called Maggie.
His father, the postmaster in Nainital, died when Jim Corbett was four. It fell
to Corbett’s mother to raise and educate 12 children on a widow’s meager pension.
His mother, Corbett recalled, “had the courage of Joan of Arc and Nurse Clavell
combined”. After the death of his mother in 1924, Maggie and Jim were constant companions
to each other and both chose not to marry.
Jim Corbett was a simple, unassuming man of six feet and a few inches with blue
eyes. He dressed only in bush clothing and wore an assortment of hats which he would
never forget in the jungle. He was shy but liked the company of his Indian friends.
He was known as a shikari, a killer of man-eaters. He loved the people of India
and understood their needs and sentiments. It is for them that he risked his life
many times to shoot the ten man eaters about whom he has written in ‘The Man Eaters
of Kumaon’, Man Eating Leopards of ‘Rudraprayag’ and ‘The Temple Tiger’. He never
shot a tiger or leopard until he was convinced that the animal had taken to man
Much of his time was spent boating and angling on the lake in Nainital. Kaladhungi
was his winter home. In the forests of Kaladhungi he learnt his first lesson in
hunting from his eldest brother Tom. He hunted his first leopard at the age of six.
Jim was blessed with an excellent eyesight, keen hearing, remarkable memory and
the power of deduction and observation supplemented with toughness and courage.
He could sing and play the guitar. For his living, he worked for 22 years (1892-1914)
with the Bihar North Western Railways. He also operated a house-agenting business
His book My India is a story of his life in Bihar and his association with India.
He fought in the First and the Second World Wars. He also trained troops for the
army in jungle warfare and was appointed Lieutenant Colonel. He was accorded several
honors and medals.