William Dalrymple (historian)

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William Dalrymple (left) with Esther Freud (centre) and Hanan Ashrawi at PalFest 2008.

William Dalrymple (historian) (born March 20, 1965) is a British historian, and writer, art historian and curator, as well as a prominent broadcaster and critic. His interests include the history and art of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Muslim world, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jains and early Eastern Christianity.


  • I am writing definitely primarily for an audience who don’t know India.
    • In Amrita Ghosh, "Author in Focus: An Interview with Dalrymple".
  • Actually, when you have been in the country for a long time... whether it’s an Indian kid going to live in California working in a software company or whether its me coming to live here as historian and writer; to a certain extent you become a part of the country, and to a certain extent you remain always the person you were with the set of circumstances, history or personal history. So, I don’t think I can ever totally become Indian, but after twenty years I have certainly taken many of the Indian elements. In fact I am sitting talking to you right now in my cotton pajamas and at lunch time I will probably have dal and rice. In various ways I have taken on the life of Delhi; I think I am in the lucky position, in that I can talk to both worlds.
    • In Amrita Ghosh, "Author in Focus: An Interview with Dalrymple".
  • Everybody has their own India and I think it’s a nonsense construction, “a real India”. The real India might be the India of the villages and certainly there’s a lot to be said of the fact that India’s heart lies in its villages. But I live 5 miles down the road from Gurgaon with kyscrapers and software companies and backoffice projects and call-centers. And that’s a very real India too, so I think “real India” doesn’t make much sense-- anymore than the real US with apple pie and Thanksgiving and family around campfires; is that anymore real than Manhattan?
    • In Amrita Ghosh, "Author in Focus: An Interview with Dalrymple".
  • What has gone on in Iraq and Afghanistan has many echoes with what was going in this part of the world in 18th and 19th century - setting up of puppet governments, the lending of troops and the training of local troops in recent Western techniques. Anyone that knows the history of South Asia in 18th century can see million echoes in what has been going in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    • In Zeenews, "William Dalrymple's book on first Anglo-Afghan war out in December"
  • The current Western puppet Hamid Karzai is from the same sub-tribe as Shah Shuja, who was a British puppet in 1839, It is the same war under slightly different flags.
    • In Zeenews, "William Dalrymple's book on first Anglo-Afghan war out in December"
    • Pointed out that the Afghan tribe which resisted 1839 invasion now make up of the foot soldiers of Taliban.

About William Dalrymple[edit]

  • His fluent and moving presentations of big subjects—India's first war of independence in "The Last Mughal (2006)", for example — sometimes irritate native historians who feel they have been scooped by a powerful foreign interest, but this is a little unfair:..Dalrymple's success has shown that there is a market for well-written history in India. This is itself an achievement.

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