On a dark evening in November 1862, a cheap coffin is buried in eerie silence. There are lamentations or panegyrics, for the British Commissioner in charge has insisted, 'No vesting will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Mughals rests.' This Mughal is Bahadur Shah Zafar II, one of the most tolerant and likeable of his remarkable dynasty who found himself leader of a violent and doomed uprising. The Siege of Delhi was the Raj's Stalingrad, the end of both Mughal power and a remarkable culture.
William Dalrymple was born in Scotland. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. His last book, White Mughals, won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. A stage version by Christopher Hampton has just been co-commissioned by the National Theatre and the Tamasha Theatre Company. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Asiatic Society. 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. He and his family divide their time between London and Delhi.