On This Day

The Day the British Colonized Myanmar—and a Library Legacy

By The Irrawaddy 3 March 2019

On this day in 1886, Britain announced that Myanmar (then Burma) was officially under its rule. With the announcement, the Southeast Asian country lost its sovereignty to the British for 62 years until independence in 1948. The announcement was signed by Sir Charles Edward Bernard, who would serve as the chief commissioner of Burma until 1887. On a more positive note, the Bristol native was the man behind the country’s first free public library. He opened the Bernard Free Library using his own collection of books on Feb. 12, 1883, directly across from Rangoon General Hospital. In June 1952 the well-resourced library officially became the Myanmar National Library. A former cantonment named after Bernard near Moegoke in Mandalay Region is now a tourist attraction.