Andrew Otis is writing a book on the first newspaper in Asia, Hicky’s Bengal Gazette.

Andrew’s non-fiction book is set in 18th century Calcutta, the center of British strength in India. His story focuses on three main characters: the newspaper editor, James Augustus Hicky, the missionary, Johann Zacharias Kiernander, and the East India Company’s Governor General, Warren Hastings.

In a time of great change in India, Hicky wrote to expose corruption in the East India Company and embezzlement in the Christian Church. But he faced the wrath of a Governor General eager to stamp down on dissent, and the divine retribution of a missionary eager to prove he had stolen nothing from God’s own charity. Up against both the Church and State, Hicky fought valiantly for the freedom of the press.

Was Hicky able to bring the Governor General and Missionary to public justice? Or were they able to suppress his reporting for eternity?

Follow Andrew as he tells this thrilling story of adventure, desperation, and a willingness to sacrifice everything for the freedom of the press.


Based on years of archival research, Andrew is telling this story in its entirety for the first time, using previously untouched primary sources found in archives in India, Germany and the UK. Not only is the story a microcosm of global affairs and colonialism at this time, but it is a tangible reminder of how important freedom of expression is through culture and time. Andrew hopes the book’s engaging content will foster cross-cultural communication between the past and the present, between the diverse histories of India, the UK and the US.

You can read the basis of Andrew’s research, based on his Fulbright proposal here.