The true story of an Indian Princess in the British court, weaving through the most important episodes in British and Indian history.
In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into royalty. Her father, the Maharajah, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, a realm that stretched from the lush Kashmir Valley to the craggy foothills of the Khyber Pass. It was a territory irresistible to the British, who took everything, including the fabled Koh-i-noor diamond.
Exiled to England, the dispossessed Maharajah transformed his estate in Norfolk into an Indian palace replete with exotic animals. Sophia, god-daughter of Queen Victoria, was raised a society lady. But after traveling to India, against the wishes of the British government, she returned a revolutionary, committed to Indian Independence – and the fight for female suffrage.
She battled with police in the midst of riots, refused to pay her taxes, spoiled her census papers in protest and publicly supported arsonists who were terrorising Britain. Sophia threw herself at the Prime Minister’s car and attempted to get arrested on several occasions, so embarrassing King George V that he was forced to exlaim “Have we no hold on her!”
This book is about her extraordinary life.
Sophia is the sort of remarkable, almost unbelievable untold true story that every writer dreams of chancing upon. A wonderful debut, written with real spirit and gusto. Anita Anand has produced a winner (William Dalrymple)
A groundbreaking work that at last tells the important story of Sophia Duleep Singh: unflinching princess-in-exile, doughty moderniser and tenacious suffragette. From the streets of India to the corridors of power, Sophia artfully examines the tensions between East and West; and one woman’s choice between fighting for freedom and staying silent (Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire)
Anita Anand has definitively restored to history one of the most important and charismatic figures in the suffragette movement. This thoroughly absorbing and deftly informative account instantly pulled me into the irresistible adventure and vitality of Sophia Duleep Singh’s defiant and innovative existence. Anand’s timely biography is a wonderful testament to Sophia’s lifetime of commitment to Indian independence and the advancement of women, and to the range and courage of her achievements (Rachel Holmes, author of Eleanor Marx)
A fascinating and elegantly written life of one of the unknown giants of women’s suffrage (Katie Hickman, author of Daughters of Britannia)
Sometimes you hear biographers complain that all the great figures have gone. They must either revisit the over-documented giants of the past or else make do with vaguely interesting obscurities. In this book, her confident and compelling debut, the BBC journalist and presenter Anita Anand leaves that argument in shreds… Anand has triumphantly rescued Princess Sophia from the pampered oblivion in which a fearful Raj sought to bury her. (Boyd Tonkin, The Independent)
Anand is a strong, confident writer and has amassed some excellent research, …packed with more than enough good stories and characters to be a rollickingly enjoyable read: a comprehensively researched and zippy account of a profoundly unusual life. (Alex von Tunzelmann, London Evening Standard)
Anita Anand’s gripping book is… a truly fantastical life-story covering India and Britain, war and peace, the personal and the political, with a liberal number of deaths, scandals and exotic jewels… fast-paced and thrilling…a noble book. (**** Lucy Worsley, Telegraph)
Editor’s Choice – Book of the Month (The Bookseller)
A fantastically original and interesting biography of Sophia Duleep Singh. (Red Magazine – Top 10 Books)
The Library Book
with contributions from: Anita Anand, Ann Cleeves, Bali Rai, Bella Bathurst, Caitlin Moran, China Miéville,Hardeep Singh Kohli, Daniel James Brown, Julian Barnes, Julie Myerson, Karin Slaughter, Kate Mosse,Lionel Shriver, Lucy Mangan, Michael Brooks, Nicky Wire, Robin Turner, Seth Godin, Stephen Fry, Susan Hill, Tom Holland, Val McDermid and Zadie Smith
Using memoir, history, polemic and some short stories too, The Library Book celebrates ‘that place where they lend you books for free’ and the people who work there. All royalties go to The Reading Agency, to help their work supporting libraries.