A qualified physician with interests including neurology and psychotherapy, W. H. R. Rivers (1864–1922) was influential in the rise of experimental psychology as an academic discipline. He also pioneered the ’talking cure’ for shell shock during the First World War. In 1897 Rivers was appointed a University Lecturer at Cambridge, and the following year he joined a Cambridge expedition to the Torres Strait to study the indigenous people’s powers of perception. Rivers’ experiences in the Torres Strait kindled his interest in anthropology and kinship systems, and in 1901–2 he obtained a grant to study the genealogies and customs of the Todas, inhabitants of a high plateau in south-west India. This illustrated book, published in 1906 and regarded as a standard ethnography for half a century, was the result. It focuses on the Todas’ elaborate dairy rituals, and the prayers associated with them, before describing many other beliefs, customs and ceremonies.