V. C. Scott O’Connor

Vincent Clarence Scott O’Connor (B.A., F.S.S.) was born on May 6, 1869, in Umritsur, West Bengal, India. At the time of his birth, the British Raj in the Indian subcontinent was at its zenith; administrators, soldiers and adventurers had been drawn to the area seeking fame and fortune. VC’s father, Thomas Abbitt O’Connor, was from County Clare, Ireland and was living in Bengal at the time of his marriage to 17-year old Emma Lavinia Scott in 1866. Emma herself had been born in Bengal of Scottish parents. In common with many descendants of the British Raj, VC’s love for India and Burma grew from his early upbringing in the region and the time he later spent working in those countries.

VC inherited his mother’s surname as his last forename rather than as a hyphenated double-barrelled surname and he continued this practice in the naming of his own sons.

He joined the Indian Civil Service as an administrator on the railways in 1890 and held a number of government positions over the ensuing years during the time that Thibaw’s kingdom of Burma was annexed by the British. His work allowed him to indulge his love of the country and his passion for travel, and by 1912 he had become Accountant-General. During this period, his other passion for travel writing saw the publication of a number of books on the region.

In 1902 he married Dora Georgiana Mansfield. Their first son, Desmond Mansfield Scott O’Connor was born in 1903 followed by Vincent Mansfield Scott O’Connor in 1904 and Hugh Mansfield Scott O’Connor in 1905. It seems they remained in India until some time after 1912 when they returned to England to live at ‘The Little House’ in the village of Findon near Worthing in Sussex.

VC's children Desmond, Vincent and Hugh taken around 1912
VC’s children Desmond, Vincent and Hugh taken around 1912

VC’s life was struck by tragedy over the course of just a few short years. On September 2nd 1925, his eldest son Desmond was killed by an accidental gunshot while on active service at Waziristan in Northern India. He was just 22 years of age. Five years later, on August 21st 1930, his second son Vincent died, aged 26, while climbing La Pointe de l’Ev√™que in the Swiss Alps. Heartbroken Dora followed two months later on October 18th 1930. She was 49. VC never wrote another book in the remaining 15 years of his life – Isles of the Aegean was his last work.

He married again in December 1932 to Muriel McNeale but they never had any children.

V. C. Scott O’Connor, acclaimed author and journalist, died in England on March 21st, 1945 at the age of 75.

His remaining son Hugh died in 1978 and VC’s family line continued with Hugh’s two daughters. Read more about VC’s descendants.

His writings

The Silken East; A Record of Life and Travel in Burma (1904) – documents the social life and customs that he encountered on his travels throughout Burma.

Mandalay, and Other Cities of the Past in Burma (1907) – an historical and contemporary look at Mandalay with almost 250 photographs and illustrations , including a plan of the palace of Mandalay.

Travels in the Pyrenees, Including Andorra and the Coast from Barcelona to Carcassonne (1913) – an account of his travels in the Pyrenees that received tremendous contemporary critical acclaim.

The Scene of War (1917) – an analysis of the context and issues leading to the outbreak of the First World War.

An Eastern Library (1920) – written in conjunction with Khan Sahib Abdul Muqtadir and Abdul Hamid. A history of the Patna Oriental public library, with description of some of its rarities, and lists of its more valuable Persian and Arabic manuscripts.

The Charm of Kashmir (1920) – from his travels in Jammu and Kashmir (India)

A Vision of Morocco, the Far West of Islam (1923) – an account of the social life and customs of Morocco.

The Empire Cruise (1925) – an on-the-spot account of the Empire Cruise honouring the countries which helped Britain during the First World War. V.C. travelled with the Special Services Squadron on HMS Hood.

Isles of the Aegean (1929) – an enchanting account of his travels throughout the islands of the Cyclades.