By Sohail Ansari
The comments on my earlier post, prompts me to share this piece, that I wrote some years ago. Most of us would have read ‘High School English Grammar and Composition’, by Wren and Martin. As a student, atleast I was not aware of its link to Karachi. I discovered it only years later. This is as following:
A part of curriculum in India since 1935 that carried on following partition, High School English Grammar and Composition By Wren and Martin was included in our school books as well. Most will recall the book.
One of its authors, Major Percival Christopher Wren had many facets to his life. An Oxford graduate, he worked as a sailor, boxer, schoolmaster, college principal, journalist, explorer, hunter, adventurer, officer attached to an Indian infantry regiment, served in the French Foreign Legion, the English cavalry as an officer with the Indian defence force as assistant director of education, a novelist and author.
P. C. Wren joined the Indian Education Service in 1903 and served as headmaster of NJV High School in Karachi, 1904-1906. Between 1903 and 1907 he also worked with the Educational Inspectorate for Sindh and at a teachers’ training college. P. C. Wren and H. Martin wrote this Grammar and Composition for the children of British officers in India. It was taught in Burma as well. Copyrights for the original edition were held by Maneckji Education Trust of Bombay. Wren’s son was born in Karachi. It was in that very city where he met his second wife. His son, Percival Rupert Christopher Wren, was born of his first wife Alice Lucille in Karachi on 18th February 1904. Alice died in Poona in 1914. He married Isabel in 1927 and adapted her son (from her first marriage) Alan Graham-Smith who became the sole administrator of his estate.
It was P. C. Wren who recorded the events linked to the curse of a Pir on the site later occupied by US Embassy/Consulate. He wrote about the curse on a site on Abdullah Haroon Road, ‘Sudden Death Lodge’, in his collection of stories, ‘Dew and Mildew’.
He died in England in November 1941.