Jane Ridley

Passage from India

Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary

By

Bloomsbury 416pp £20 order from our bookshop

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was the youngest daughter of Duleep Singh, the deposed maharajah of the Punjab. Anita Anand has chosen to write this book as Sophia’s biography, but the rich material that she has researched is really the story of her father and his family during a century of dispossession.

Duleep was the youngest son of the warlord Ranjit Singh, the ‘Lion of the Punjab’. Ranjit conquered the Punjab from the Moguls, who had ruled there since the 16th century, and established a Sikh kingdom. On his death in 1839 the Punjab dissolved into bloody civil war, and in 1843 his only surviving son, the five-year-old Duleep (four other heirs had been murdered), became maharajah, with his tough mother acting as regent (she was the daughter of Ranjit’s kennel man; love of dogs was a persistent family trait). This unstable regime was a fruit ripe for picking by the expansionist East India Company, and in 1849 the ten-year-old Duleep was deposed and forced out. 

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Although he travels through time and space to find the best produce, his choices, delightfully, are not obvious.'… ,
    • RT : I regularly make purchases based on - it’s excellent.,
    • RT : I wrote about Yoko Ogawa's dreamlike, allegorical novel The Memory Police, newly published in English in a translat… ,
    • 'At this frankly apocalyptic moment for indigenous rights in Brazil, John Hemming’s "People of the Rainforest" is a… ,
    • 'I was dumbfounded by the view of the Berlin Wall from the eastern side. It seemed inconceivable that in under thre… ,
    • RT : Danger for ‘local’ staff, access in exchange for silence (and logos) - all sounds familiar in this fascinating look… ,
    • 'He has long been eclipsed by Vermeer, though his interiors are arguably more ambitious.' David Gelber on the Dutc… ,