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.