Following the settlement of Penang by the British East India Company in 1786 the island quickly developed into a flourishing maritime port of exchange. By 1805 the population was ‘so diversified as at this day to write in 13 distinct alphabets, & speak in 28 distinct dialects’.
The 200 concise biographies of early Penang mercantile personalities included in this volume offer the reader a rare and invaluable glimpse into their lives. The selection is a veritable cultural cross-section of those who pioneered the growth of Penang in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It highlights not only their contribution to the economic, social, political and cultural development of Penang, but also of Malaysia and Southeast Asia as a whole.