Were you to sit amid the faded Georgian splendour of the Asiatic Society in Kolkata, or else amid the austere postmodern architecture of the Rare Books Room of the British Library in London, you might well find yourself staring at the very same page. The quarto volume that contains it is quite slender – a mere 216 pages of main text with 30 pages of prelims – but it could scarcely be of greater interest. What you would be looking at in either city is the title page of the very first book in the world to employ moveable Bangla – that is Bengali – type. A Grammar of the Bengal Language was compiled at Hoogly (by the banks of the Hoogly river in present-day Kolkata) in 1778 by Nathaniel Brassey Halhed, a twenty-seven-year-old ‘writer’ or probationer clerk in the East India Company. Halhed has signed the page near the top, so that the tail of the ‘d’ at the end of his surname curls across the first block of Bangla characters. That twin copies of his work can yield similar sensations in time zones set five and a half hours apart may seem slightly uncanny. In Kolkata you would need to shut your ears to the traffic in Park Street alongside the building, in London to amicable blandishments issuing from the Tannoy above your head. But lift the tome before you to eye level, and in either location you would notice, just beneath that trailing ‘d’, tiny indentations biting into the coarse, yellowing paper.