The colourful Jacob Haafner

From 1773 to 1786 Jacob Haafner was in India, where he had an adventure full and colourful life. First as klerk in Negapatnam, later as bookkeeper in the Sadras factory. From 1781 he worked some years in Calcutta as bookkeeper with the former British Governer and scholar in Bengal, Joseph Fowke.

Haafner was utterly indignant about the behaviour of the Europeans in India characterized in his view by greed, cruelty and indifference. Time and again he argued that the local Indians were victims from the European domination.



Titlepage of Reize in eene Palanquin, his book with romance with his Indian lover.












His basic details:

1754 born in Halle (Germany)
1766 left with father for Batavia where he never arrived
1779-1781 secretary and accountant with the office of the VOC, Coromandel
1781-… worked in Calcutta in the service of J. Fowke and met the scholar W. Jones
(translated for him a South Indian manuscript into English)
1785 return in the Netherlands
1809 died in Amsterdam on September 3.

In recent years Haafners books are being revalued as the first literal works from the 18th century.

The books that I have from him are all in Dutch. See my VOC in India bibliography