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William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. The Last Mughal was longlisted for the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.
Author photo © Karoki Lewi
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 2 June 2010. William Dalrymple delves deep into the heart of a nation torn between the relentless onslaught of modernity and the ancient traditions that endure to this day.
THE TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR SHORTLISTED FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE 2020 LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2019 A FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY TELEGRAPH, WALL STREET JOURNAL AND TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty' - Gerard DeGroot, The Times In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish a new administration in his richest provinces. Run by English merchants who collected taxes using a ruthless private army, this new regime saw the East India Company transform itself from an international trading corporation into something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business. William Dalrymple tells the remarkable story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.
As the East India Company extended its sway across India in the late eighteenth century, many remarkable artworks were commissioned by Company officials from Indian painters who had previously worked for the Mughals. Published to coincide with the first UK exhibition of these masterworks at The Wallace Collection, this book celebrates the work of a series of extraordinary Indian artists, each with their own style and tastes and agency, all of whom worked for British patrons between the 1770s and the bloody end of the Mughal rule in 1857. Edited by writer and historian William Dalrymple, these hybrid paintings explore both the beauty of the Indian natural world and the social realities of the time in one hundred masterpieces, often of astonishing brilliance and originality. They shed light on a forgotten moment in Anglo-Indian history during which Indian artists responded to European influences while keeping intact their own artistic visions and styles. These artists represent the last phase of Indian artistic genius before the onset of the twin assaults - photography and the influence of western colonial art schools - ended an unbroken tradition of painting going back two thousand years. As these masterworks show, the greatest of these painters deserve to be remembered as among the most remarkable Indian artists of all time.
THE TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2019 A FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY TELEGRAPH, WALL STREET JOURNAL AND TIMES BOOK OF THE YEAR 'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty' - Gerard DeGroot, The Times In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish in his richest provinces a new administration run by English merchants who collected taxes through means of a ruthless private army - what we would now call an act of involuntary privatisation. The East India Company's founding charter authorised it to 'wage war' and it had always used violence to gain its ends. But the creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business. In less than four decades it had trained up a security force of around 200,000 men - twice the size of the British army - and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company's reach stretched until almost all of India south of the Himalayas was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London. The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how one of the world's most magnificent empires disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, based thousands of miles overseas in one small office, five windows wide, and answerable only to its distant shareholders. In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.
Mountstuart Elphinstone (1779-1859), Lowland Scottish traveller, East India Company civil servant and educator, was one of the principal intellectual architects of British colonial rule in South Asia. Imbued with liberal views, such that Bombay's wealthy founded Elphinstone College in his memory, he pioneered the scholarly, scientific and administrative foundations of imperialism in India. Elphinstone's career was launched when he was picked to lead the inaugural British diplomatic mission to the Afghan court. His Account of the Kingdom of Caubul (1815) became the main source of British information about Afghanistan. He is best known for his periods as Resident at Poona and Governor of Bombay in the 1810s and 1820s, when he instituted innovative and lasting policies in administration and education while also conducting research for his extremely influential History of India (1841). This volume examines Mountstuart Elphinstone's intellectual contributions and administrative career in their own right, in relation to prominent contemporaries including Charles Metcalfe and William Moorcroft, and in the context of later historical study of India, Afghanistan, British imperialism and its imperial frontiers.
The first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor, arguably the most celebrated and mythologised jewel in the world. On 29 March 1849, the ten-year-old maharaja of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over great swathes of the richest country in India in a formal Act of Submission to a private corporation, the East India Company. He was also compelled to hand over to the British monarch, Queen Victoria, perhaps the single most valuable object on the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light. The history of the Koh-i-Noor that was then commissioned by the British may have been one woven together from gossip of Delhi bazaars, but it was to become the accepted version. Only now is it finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology that has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation told through an impressive slice of south and central Asian history. It ends with the jewel in its current controversial setting: in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Masterly, powerful and erudite, this is history at its most compelling and invigorating.