The Anarchy: The Rise of the East India Company


15:00 – 16:15 | SATURDAY 13 APRIL


In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish in his richest provinces a new administration run by English merchants who collected taxes through means of a ruthless private army. The East India Company’s founding charter authorised it to ‘wage war’ and it had always used violence to gain its ends. But the creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices and became something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business.

Drawing from his international bestseller, The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company, William Dalrymple tells the remarkable story of the East India Company, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.

Chaired by award-winning historian, author and academic Dr Nandini Das (Courting India: England, Mughal India and the Origins of Empire).

About the speakers

  • Professor Nandini Das: Nandini Das is Professor of Early Modern English Literature and Culture and Fellow of Exeter College at the University of Oxford. She is a scholar of Renaissance literature, travel, migration, and cross-cultural encounters, and has published widely on these topics, from their appearance in the writings of major sixteenth and seventeenth century authors like Philip Sidney, Shakespeare and Cervantes, to the fleeting presence of three Japanese boys in sixteenth century Portuguese-held Goa, India. Her works include, Robert Greene’s Planetomachia, Renaissance Romance: The Transformation of English Prose Fiction, 1570-1620 (2011) and her latest Courting India: England, Mughal India, and the Origins of Empire, which was the 2023 winner of the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding.
  • William Dalrymple: William Dalrymple is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster. He has written and presented three television series, one of which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA. His works of nonfiction include, the bestselling, Wolfson Prize-winning White Mughals, The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize, and the Hemingway and Kapuściński award-winning Return of a King. His most recent book, The Anarchy, won the 2020 Arthur Ross Bronze Medal from the US Council on Foreign Relations, was long listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2019, and was a Finalist for the Cundill Prize for History.

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