The ‘Great Game’

Published in Issue 5 (September/October 2022), Letters, Volume 30

Sir,—Martin Greene (‘Bram Stoker’s “Great Game”?’, HI 30.4, July/Aug. 2022) refers to the term ‘Great Game’ being in use ‘among British military officials in India’ from the Afghan wars onwards (that is from 1838 up to the date of Kipling’s Kim (1901). The first recorded use is in 1840, when Capt. Arthur Conolly wrote ‘If we play the great game that is before us, the results will be incalculably beneficial to us’ (quoted by Seymour Becher, ‘The “Great Game”: the history of an evocative phrase’ in Asian Affairs 43 (1) (2012)). By the 1850s it was a commonplace: ‘the great game in central Asia’ (D.C. Bolger, England and Russia in Central Asia (1879)). The Viceroy of India, Lord Lytton, referred in 1876 to ‘the great game for empire we are now playing with Russia’.—Yours etc.,

RICHARD PINE
Corfu

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