WhiteMughals

White Mughals Love and Betrayal in 18th Century India

by William Dalrymple

$20.00

9780142004128

White Mughals is the romantic and ultimately tragic tale of a passionate love affair that crossed and transcended all the cultural, religious and political boundaries of its time.

James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of the Nizam of Hyderabad when in 1798 he glimpsed Kahir un-Nissa—’Most excellent among Women’—the great-niece of the Nizam’s Prime Minister and a descendant of the Prophet. Kirkpatrick had gone out to India as an ambitious soldier in the army of the East India Company, eager to make his name in the conquest and subjection of the subcontinent. Instead, he fell in love with Khair and overcame many obstacles to marry her—not least of which was the fact that she was locked away in purdah and engaged to a local nobleman. Eventually, while remaining Resident, Kirkpatrick converted to Islam, and according to Indian sources even became a double-agent working for the Hyderabadis against the East India Company.

It is a remarkable story, involving secret assignations, court intrigue, harem politics, religious and family disputes. But such things were not unknown; from the early sixteenth century, when the Inquisition banned the Portuguese in Goa from wearing the dhoti, to the eve of the Indian mutiny, the ‘white Mughals’ who wore local dress and adopted Indian ways were a source of embarrassments to successive colonial administrations. William Dalrymple unearths such colourful figures as ‘Hindoo Stuart’, who travelled with his own team of Brahmins to maintain his temple of idols, and who spent many years trying to persuade the memsahibs of Calcutta to adopt the sari; and Sir David Ochterlony, Kirkpatrick’s counterpart in Delhi, who took all thirteen of his wives out for evening promenades, each on the back of their own elephant. (Penguin, Apr 27 2004, Pbk, 512pp)

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About the Author

William  Dalrymple

William Dalrymple

British 

William Dalrymple is the author of seven previous works of history and travel, including City of Djinns, which won the Young British Writer of the Year Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; From the Holy Mountain; White Mughals, which won Britain’s Wolfson History Prize; and The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize for History and Biography. He is a contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New YorkerHe divides his time between New Delhi and London.

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