The Last Mughal

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The Last Mughal
AuthorWilliam Dalrymple
CountryUnited Kingdom
SubjectNarrative history
PublisherBloomsbury Publishing
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover, paperback)
Pages575 pp.
Preceded byBegums Thugs and White Mughals 
Followed byNine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India 

The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 is a 2006 historical book by William Dalrymple.[1] It deals with the life of poet-emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar (1775–1862) and the unsuccessful Indian Rebellion of 1857, which he was participated in, challenging the British East India Company's rule over India. This was a major act of resistance against the British Empire, finally resulting in the replacement of the nominal Mughal monarch with the British monarch as the Emperor of India.


The book, Dalrymple's sixth, and his second to reflect his long love affair with the city of Delhi, won praise for its use of "The Mutiny Papers", which included previously ignored Indian accounts of the events of 1857. He worked on these documents in association with the Urdu scholar Mahmood Farooqui.[2]

Critical response[edit]

The book won the 2006 Duff Cooper Memorial Prize for History and Biography, and the 2007 Vodafone Crossword Book Award.

Geoffrey Moorhouse of The Guardian wrote,[3]

Dalrymple has here written an account of the Indian mutiny such as we have never had before, of the events leading up to it and of its aftermath, seen through the prism of the last emperor's life. He has vividly described the street life of the Mughal capital in the days before the catastrophe happened, he has put his finger deftly on every crucial point in the story, which earlier historians have sometimes missed, and he has supplied some of the most informative footnotes I have ever read. On top of that, he has splendidly conveyed the sheer joy of researching a piece of history, something every true historian knows, telling of his elation at discovering in Burma's national archives all Zafar's prison records, stored in Acrobat PDF files - "something the British Library has so far failed to achieve."

Aamer Hussein of The Independent noted,[4]

Dalrymple's recreation of the city of Delhi under siege forms the monumental backdrop to the tragic figure of the eponymous monarch, the "last Mughal." Aged 82 and abidingly fond of the arts of peace, Bahadur Shah Zafar was chosen as a mascot by an army seen as rebels and mutineers by the British, and as freedom fighters by some nationalist historians.


  1. ^ HARSHAW, TOBIN (22 April 2007). "King of Delhi". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  2. ^ Last Mughal, xxv; TLS, 24 Nov 2005; The Guardian, 11 Nov 2006; Hindustan Times, 5 Nov 2006.
  3. ^ Moorhouse, Geoffrey (11 November 2006). "Zafar the ditherer". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
  4. ^ Hussein, Aamer (5 October 2006). "The Last Mughal, by William Dalrymple Fall of a chessboard king". The Independent. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 22 May 2017.

External links[edit]