We are delighted to welcome back to Hong Kong William Dalrymple, one of the world’s greatest historical authors, famous both as a historian and travel writer. In this second lecture, William Dalrymple speaks on his best seller, The Last Mughal, the story of the fall of Delhi to sepoys during the Indian Mutiny, a sequel to his sellout lecture to the RGS on The White Mughals in 2005. In The Last Mughal, Mr Dalrymple describes the ultimate fall of the Muslim Persian Mughal empire, which had ruled much of India since the 16th Century, during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, which ultimately consolidated British rule over the whole subcontinent.
Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet and a skilled calligrapher. But while Zafar's Mughal ancestors had controlled most of India, Zafar was king in name only. Deprived of real political power by the East India Company, Zafar nevertheless succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. Then, in 1857, Zafar's flourishing capital became the centre of an uprising that reduced Delhi to a battered, empty ruin. When Zafar gave his blessing to a rebellion among the East India Company's own Indian troops, it transformed a limited army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face, which would ultimately lead to the end of the Persian hegemony in India and the start of the British Raj.
The lecture includes a portrait of the glories of the Delhi which Zafar ruled, the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its destruction in the Mutiny of 1857. Mr Dalrymple's powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is shaped from groundbreaking material, including previously untranslated Urdu and Persian manuscripts that include Indian eyewitness accounts, and the records of the Delhi courts, police, and administration during the siege. Thus, even to those familiar with the events of the Indian Mutiny, it is a fascinating story. It is the perhaps the first account to present the Indian perspective of the siege, together with the stories of the individuals caught up in the exraordinary events of the Mutiny.
William Dalrymple was educated at Ampleforth College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he read history. He achieved early fame with the publication of In Xanadu, his overland journey following Marco Polo’s route from Jerusalem to Coleridge’s “stately pleasure dome" of Xanadu in present day China. His subsequent books include From the Holy Mountain, City of Djinns, The Age of Kali, White Mughals and Nine Lives, in addition to The Last Mughal. All of his six books have won major literary prizes. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, the New Statesman and The New Yorker. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was awarded the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his ‘outstanding contribution to travel literature’. He also broadcasts frequently and presented the television series Stones of the Raj and Indian Journey
There is no pre booking for this lecture. Members and guests are most welcome to attend, please purchase tickets on the night HK$100 for members and HK$150 for non members. Tickets on sale from 18.30, drinks from 18.30 lecture starts 19.30