2010 S.E.A. WRITE GUEST SPEAKER
William Dalrymple, FRSL FRAS (born 20 March 1965 in Scotland) is a multiple-award winning historian and travel writer, as well as a distinguished broadcaster, critic, art historian, foreign correspondent and co-director of Asia's largest literary festival.
Dalrymple was born William Hamilton-Dalrymple, the son of Sir Hew Hamilton-Dalrymple, 10th baronet, a cousin of Virginia Woolf. He was educated at Ampleforth College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was first a history exhibitioner and then senior history scholar.
Dalrymple, who has lived in Delhi on and off for the last 25 years, is married to the artist Olivia Fraser and has three children, Ibby, Sam, and Adam, and a cockatoo called Albinia. The South Asia correspondent of the New Statesman since 2004, he is a fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Society of Literature
Dalrymple's interests include India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, the Middle East, Mughal rule, the Muslim world, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jains and early Eastern Christianity. All of his six books have won major literary prizes, as have his radio and television documentaries. His first three were travel books based on his journeys in the Middle East, India and Central Asia. His early influences included the travel writers such as Robert Byron, Eric Newby, and Bruce Chatwin. More recently, Dalrymple has published a book of essays about South Asia, and two award-winning histories of the interaction between the British and the Mughals between the eighteenth and mid nineteenth century. His books have been translated into French, Spanish,
Italian, Dutch, German, Estonian, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Polish, Turkish, Japanese, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali.
He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, the New Statesman and The New Yorker. He has also written many articles for Time magazine, to which he contributed the article The Real Islam for their 2004 annual issue Asian Journey. He wrote an essay Business as Usual for the India Charges Ahead special issue commemorating 60 years of Indian independence.
He attended the inaugural Palestine Festival of Literature in 2008 - giving readings and taking workshops in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem.
He is the founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival along with the writer Namita Gokhale. The festival, now the largest literary festival in Asia and the largest free festival of literature in the world, is held annually in the Indian city of Jaipur and was recently dubbed "the greatest literary show on earth" by The Daily Beast.
Dalrymple spends most of the year at his farm house in Mehrauli near New Delhi, India, but summers in London and Edinburgh.
His latest book, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, was published by Bloomsbury, and went to the number one slot on the Indian non-fiction section bestseller list. Since its publication he has been touring the UK, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia, Holland and the US with a band consisting of some of the people featured in his book including Sufis, Fakirs, Bauls, Theveram hymn singers as well as a prison warder and part-time Theyyam dancer widely believed to be an incarnation of the God Vishnu.
He is now beginning work on a history of the First Afghan War 1839-42, and curating a major show of the late Mughal and Company School painting of Delhi for the Asia Society in New York, due to open January 2012.