William Dalrymple is a highly acclaimed author of a series of books, notably Xanadu, City of Djinns, The Age of Kali and White Mughals. In his most ambitious and riveting book to date, The Anarchy, 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.
He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Geographical Society and of the Royal Asiatic Society. He is a founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival. Be sure to catch up with William’s current podcast Empire with Anita Anand, covering the period the British spent in India.
William was born in Scotland in 1965 and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He was educated at Ampleforth and Trinity College, Cambridge where he was first History Exhibitioner then Senior History Scholar.
William is the author of ten books about India and the Islamic world, including City of Djinns (Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Prize), White Mughals (Wolfson Prize for History and SAC Scottish Book of the Year Prize), The Last Mughal (Duff Cooper Prize and Vodafone Award for Non-Fiction) and Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India (Asia House Literary Award). He recently curated a major show of Mughal art for the Asia Society in New York, Princes and Painters in Mughal Delhi 1707-1857. Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan 1839-42 was published in 2012 and won the Hemingway and Kapuscinski Prizes and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson, Duff Cooper and PEN Hessel-Tiltman History Prizes. In 2019 he published The Anarchy: the Relentless Rise of the East India Company which was chosen by Barack Obama as his book of the year.
He writes regularly for the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and the Guardian, and is one of the founders and a co-director of the Jaipur Literary Festival.
A frequent broadcaster, he wrote and presented three television series Stones of the Raj (Channel 4), Sufi Soul (Channel 4) and Indian Journeys (BBC/PBS), the last of which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA in 2002. His Radio 4 series on the history of British spirituality and mysticism, The Long Search, won the 2002 Sandford St Martin Prize for Religious Broadcasting and was described by the judges as ‘thrilling in its brilliance.’
He has three honorary doctorates of letters, from the University of St Andrews ‘for his services to literature and international relations, to broadcasting and understanding,’ from the University of Lucknow University ‘for his outstanding contribution in literature and history’, and from the University of Aberdeen ‘for his contribution to the writing of the history of India.’ Two more, from the Universities of Chichester and Bradford, will be received next year.