William Dalrymple is a historical fiction writer, an art historian, curator, broadcaster and critic; to name some of the caps he wears. Dalrymple is the recipient of numerous awards in every field that he has ventured into. Born in Scotland in 1965, Dalrymple was educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was first a history exhibitioner and later a senior history scholar.
Dalrymple’s Early Works
At the young age of 22, Dalrymple wrote “In Xanadu,” which was based on his personal travels along the route followed by Marco Polo from Jerusalem to Mongolia which won him the Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award, among other awards. In 1989, Dalrymple traveled to India to research his first of many books on the country, “City of Djinns,” the capital city of India, Delhi, a city which has been ransacked (by invaders) seven times over and rebuilt on the ashes. “City of Djinns” was later followed by “From the Holy Mountain” and “The Age of Kali.”
Sex, Politics, Starvation and Historical Fiction
Dalrymple started concentrating on writing history in 1999, with “White Mughals.” Dalrymple’s style of writing blends his meticulous research with adventure and is what sets his writings aside, making it so appealing to the reader. This work focused on the relations between the British, who were slowly conquering India, and the Mughals, who were ruling India at the time. Based on his research of the late 18th to early 19th century India, the author and historian presented the atmosphere of sexual attitude and social etiquette present at the time as well as trade relations, military, and political deals happening between the British and the Mughals.
Unlike Dalrymple’s other works, “Nine Lives” is a collection of fascinating stories on the most bizarre Indian rituals. This work is a culmination of his twenty-five years of travel and research in India. Dalrymple artfully brings out the reasons why the nine people in the book follow these faiths and practices; like the Jain nun who watched her friend starve herself to death, an accepted practice among the Jains.
India and Other Roads Less Travelled
Despite Dalrymple’s continued love affair with India, he has toured other countries such as Australia, Holland, and the United States. Apart from India, his interests include the history and the art of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East; religions of the Muslim world, Jainism, Hinduism, Buddhism and early Christianity – they have all found a way into Dalrymple’s work.
Dalrymple’s Historical Flair and Other Honors
William Dalrymple has a flair for narrating history through storytelling and scholarship; he quotes from journals, includes trans-cultural research deftly time weaving story, intrigue, and history. He takes the reader on a journey through the ages as he reveals the grandeur, the subterfuge, the class disparities, and the atmosphere prevalent during the times. He leaves the reader wanting for more and has been fulfilling that request with his consequent releases. Dalrymple is the recipient of numerous awards; he has written and presented the television series, Stones of the Raj and Indian Journals which have won him the Grierson Award at the BAFTA for the best documentary series in 2002.
Dalrymple is the co-founder and Director of the Jaipur Literature Festival, held annually in the city of Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. He is married to Olivia, an artist, and they have three children, Ibby, Sam, and Adam. They divide their time between their farmhouse in Mehrauli, outside Delhi, India, and their homes in London and Edinburgh. His latest release is “The Anarchy,” which shows the downfall of the Mughal Empire in India and how The East India Company gradually strengthened its position finally conquering India for the crown. It has been announced that “White Mughal” will be made into a film, directed and starred by Ralph Fiennes, however the film is still in development as of this posting.