Tag Archives: Kohinoor

Writing Matters: In conversation with William Dalrymple

By Rituparna Mahapatra

William Dalrymple

Historian, art curator, travel writer, broadcaster, photographer and one of the co-founders and co-directors of the Jaipur Literature Festival – William Dalrymple wears many hats. Born and brought up in Scotland and educated in England, he made India his home, driven by his love for the country and its history.

William Dalrymple was one of the guest authors at the 10th commemorative year of Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature, 2018, Dubai. Beaming smile in place, Dalrymple spoke to a full house, the audience in rapt attention as he unfolded the story of the ‘Kohinoor’ diamond, a story that he narrates in his latest book by the same name, co-authored with Anita Anand.

In conversation with Rituparna Mahapatra at the Emirates Airline Literature Festival 2018, he speaks about his love for India, his travel stories, his passion for history, his current book and his family.
The first thing that strikes you about William Dalrymple is his affable laugh. He wanted to be an archaeologist digging ruins in Iraq; it was chance that he accompanied his friend to India and could never really get himself to go back, he laughs and says.

Rituparna: You have many laurels – historian, art curator, writer… how would you primarily describe yourself?

William Dalrymple: I am a writer.  Most of my life comes under that heading, and that is the work I do most days. It encompasses all my other roles. The other stuff that I do, like running the Jaipur Literature Festival or my photography is a lovely diversion. But on this, no question in my head – I am a writer.

Rituparna: You have pioneered the non-fictional narrative storytelling. Is there a particular method, a sort of regime to your writing?

Dalrymple: Very much so.

Thank you, it’s very sweet of you to say I have pioneered non-fictional narrative storytelling, but I think I have only pioneered it within the Indian context. The kind of books I write is very common among my contemporaries where I come from in Britain, and that is the biographical narrative British history, which is the traditional way of writing history. But in India, so much of history is academic history. With my sociological takes on history, people here were slightly ruffled by what I am doing. They thought, am I writing a novel? No, I am not writing a novel; I am writing non-fiction, but I am writing it in a narrative form. And it is all based on historical facts.

Coming to my regime, yes I follow a particular method while working on a book. It is typically a cycle of three to four years, sometimes more. The current East India Company book that I am working on would take around four to five years.  The first year, when I go on a book tour from the last book, I begin thinking about what I am going to do next. I start to look for ideas, track the right people, find archives, and by the end of the year, am finally settled on the subject of the book. Then, I start reading on what has already been written on the subject. That’s the most beautiful part of the cycle because you are just sitting by the pool, reading books on the subject of your interest.  Then gradually the pressure builds up, and then I begin looking at archives, and that is more like serious work, which means you could be at some Government archives maybe in Kabul, in Lahore or New Delhi. Then comes the writing itself, which usually happens in year three or four. That’s the final invest, getting up early… getting fit, dieting a bit.., not going out too much. This phase is more like doing an exam.

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History revisited: Author William Darlymple questions the static nature of history

By Sukant Deepak

William Dalrymple will speak to us on one condition. “Order tea for me, and make me talk.” When boys in their teenage were chasing girls, he was in the darkroom, experimenting with black and white. “Of course! I never chased girls. I don’t chase girls. I will never chase girls!” he says and hugs the delicate Olivia Fraser, his wife.

The location is perfect. Almost. No one disturbs us at the outdoor café ‘Stop ‘N Stare’ in Chandigarh. While Fraser, wearing a permanent smile on her lips ignores us completely and buries herself into a book, Dalrymple, known best for books like The City of Djinns and The White Mughals, between sips of kadak chai, talks about his recent book of black and white photographs The Writer’s Eye, a collection of 60 photographs shot over two years during his travels across different landscapes in India and around the world, says that none of the photographs were taken with a view to exhibit.”All of them are dark and grainy-the kinds I loved taking when I was a teenager,” says the 51-year-old writer. It is believed that the author did this book to take a break from his mega project on the East India Company. The author agrees, and adds that the book Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond, which he co-authored with Anita Anand and published by Juggernaut, also falls in that category. “Read it to know that whatever you knew about the diamond was wrong. There is way too much fiction and myth making around this diamond. By the way, the Mughals didn’t regard it as a great asset,” he says. Read more

Source: India Today

The largest free literary festival in the world, Jaipur Literature Festival releases its ninth list of speakers

By Craig Cranenburgh

The Jaipur Literature Festival is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this time around and is expected to be bigger and better. The festival has gone from a gem of an idea to the world’s largest free literary festival, hosting upto 1300 speakers over the past decade.

To celebrate this, the festival has announced 10 speakers’ names every week, for 10 weeks leading up to the festival – which is returning to its home at the Diggi Palace in Jaipur – between January 19-23. Here is the ninth list of speakers expected at the festival:

Author of novels such as The Rozabal Line, Chanakya’s Chant and The Krishna Key, Ashwin Sanghi is one of India’s bestselling thriller/conspiracy fiction writers who retells Indian mythology and history in a contemporary context. His latest novel, The Sialkot Saga, was released in April of 2016. Read more

Source: Mybigplunge.com

New Release: Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond

By Nirupama Dutt

kohinoor-book

Instead of becoming a jewel in the crown, the diamond of destiny — Kohinoor — could well have been adorning the idol of Lord Jagannath at the Puri temple. It is said that it was the dying wish of mighty Maharaja Ranjit Singh that all his jewels, including the famous or now labelled the ‘most infamous diamond of history’, to the Puri temple. However, his wish conveyed by his head Brahmin, Bhai Gobind Ram, when the Maharaja was on his deathbed was opposed by his chief treasurer Misr Beli Ram and the diamond moved to the crown.

This episode is described at length in ‘Kohinoor: The story of the world’s most infamous diamond’, the will book authored by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, which was launched here on Thursday. Speaking to HT, Dalrymple said: “Many myths and legends surrounded Kohinoor, but this last wish of the Maharaja is sourced from the Maharaja’s court journal ‘Umtad-ul-Tawarikh’.”

 The less-told story of Maharaja’s last wish finds prominent place in the fifth chapter ‘Ranjit Singh: The Kohinoor in Lahore’. It is said that when the Maharaja of the Punjab was nearing his end and suffered a major stroke in June 1839, he started giving away his most valuable possessions. During his last pilgrimage to the holy city of Amritsar, he donated much of his wealth before he assembled his officers and made them take the oath of allegiance to his eldest son Kharak Singh. Read more