Confessions of a Thug (novel)

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Confessions of a Thug
Author Philip Meadows Taylor
Cover artist Richard Bentley
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Historical novel
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 552 pp

Confessions of a Thug is an English novel written by Philip Meadows Taylor in 1839 based on the Thuggee cult in British India.[1][2] Ameer Ali, the fictional anti-hero protagonist of Confessions of a Thug,[3] is a composite of multiple real-life thugs: Feringhea, Ameer Alee, and Aman Subahdar. Feringhea was a jemadar, or captain, and lead many expeditions before turning into a prolific informer for the British.[4] The historical Ameer Alee, who provided the fictional character's name, was a low-ranking thug mentioned only twice by Sleeman in his definitive work.[5] Finally, Aman Subahdar was described by Sleeman as "the foremost thug of his day," but died before the events of the novel conclude. One scene in the novel, in which a thug band led by Ameer Ali suffers a misfortune, is lifted almost word-for-word from Sleeman's book. In the historical version, Aman Subahdar led the expedition. [6] Further, Feringhea and Aman Subahdar were cousins but no such comparable character exists in the novel.

Confessions of a Thug became a bestseller in 19th century Britain.


This book is a tale of crime and retribution in India, beginning in the late 18th century and ending in 1832. The story lays bare the practices of the Thugs, or deceivers as they were called, who murdered travellers for money and valuables. This work was originally published in 1839 and reprinted in 1873.


  • Ameer Ali: The novel's protagonist, a Pathan adopted and raised by a thug. After becoming a prominent jemadar, he and his father relocate to Jhalone and gain the confidence of the local ruler.
  • The Englishman: Ameer Ali's interlocutor and a stand-in for Phillip Meadows Taylor. His interviews of Ameer Ali provides a frame for the narrative of the novel. The Englishman describes the physical appearance of Ameer Ali in his imprisonment and will occasionally express moral outrage at some part of the tale, or otherwise offer criticism.
  • Ismail: The adopted father of Ameer Ali. A respected and high-ranking thug, he is childless and adopts Ameer Ali. During the first half of the story, Ismail and his family live in a small village near Nagpur.
  • Bhudrinath: A Hindu thug and early peer of Ameer Ali. He is an expert in the religious ceremonies of the thuggee cult.
  • Peer Khan: A Muslim thug and another close ally of Ameer Ali. He retires from thuggee to become a fakir.
  • Ganesha: A prominent thug of Ismail's generation. He serves as Ameer Ali's antagonist in the second half of the story.
  • Cheetoo: A prominent leader of pindari expeditions. Ameer Ali and several thugs join him as mercenary soldiers.

Film adaptation[edit]

A Bollywood film is being made based on this novel. It is titled Thugs of Hindostan and stars Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif and Fatima Sana Shaikh in lead roles and is being directed by Vijay Krishna Acharya. It is being produced by Aditya Chopra under the Yash Raj Films production banner. Filming began in Malta in June 2017 and the film is scheduled to release during Diwali 2018. Arijit Singh will sing the titular song which will be composed by Himesh Reshammiya.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Poovey, Mary (2004-01-01). "Ambiguity and Historicism: Interpreting Confessions of a Thug". Narrative. 12 (1): 3–21. ISSN 1538-974X. doi:10.1353/nar.2003.0025. 
  2. ^ "The SF Site Featured Review: Confessions of a Thug". Retrieved 2016-04-02. 
  3. ^ Taylor, Meadows (July 1918), "The Confessions of a Thug", The American Journal of Sociology, 24 (1): 115, doi:10.1086/212883 
  4. ^ Sleeman, W. H. S. (1840). Report on the depredations committed by the thug gangs of upper and central India, from the cold season of 1836-37, down to their gradual suppression, under the operation of the measures adopted against them by the supreme government, in the year 1839. Calcutta: G.H. Huttmann. Pages vi, 5-8, 17, 24-26, 42, 46, 49, 61, 64, 67, 75, 110.
  5. ^ Sleeman, W. H. S. (1840). Page 63.
  6. ^ Sleeman, W. H. S. (1840). Page 386.

External links[edit]