Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary

Book - 2015
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In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Her father, Maharajah Duleep Singh, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, one of the greatest empires of the Indian subcontinent, a realm that stretched from the lush Kashmir Valley to the craggy foothills of the Khyber Pass and included the mighty cities of Lahore and Peshawar. It was a territory irresistible to the British, who plundered everything, including the fabled Koh-I-Noor diamond. Exiled to England, the dispossessed Maharajah transformed his estate at Elveden in Suffolk into a Moghul palace, its grounds stocked with leopards, monkeys and exotic birds. Sophia, god-daughter of Queen Victoria, was raised a genteel aristocratic Englishwoman: presented at court, afforded grace and favor lodgings at Hampton Court Palace and photographed wearing the latest fashions for the society pages. But when, in secret defiance of the British government, she travelled to India, she returned a revolutionary. Sophia transcended her heritage to devote herself to battling injustice and inequality, a far cry from the life to which she was born. Her causes were the struggle for Indian Independence, the fate of the lascars, the welfare of Indian soldiers in the First World War--and, above all, the fight for female suffrage. She was bold and fearless, attacking politicians, putting herself in the front line and swapping her silks for a nurse's uniform to tend wounded soldiers evacuated from the battlefields. Meticulously researched and passionately written, this enthralling story of the rise of women and the fall of empire introduces an extraordinary individual and her part in the defining moments of recent British and Indian history
Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, ©2015.
ISBN: 9781632860811
Characteristics: xiii, 416 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates :,illustrations, portraits ;,25 cm.


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Jun 27, 2016

Excellent book about a princess who lived during tumultuous times in British & Indian history.Loved it!

May 30, 2016

The title of the book pretty much describes its content - a woman stripped of regal power but finding political power in exile. The only thing that made me smile was when she defaced her census form saying that since she couldn't vote, she shouldn't be counted as part of the population. Otherwise, an average book.

Apr 18, 2015

An interesting (but not riveting) biography of a woman of colour, in England, who was adulated for her "Princess" status but despised for her personal politics as a suffragette and Indian nationalist. The first 100 pages on Princess Sophia's family background should have been condensed.


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Feb 11, 2015

"Born in 1876, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was the daughter of the last maharaja of the Punjab, who had been deposed, exiled to Britain, and given an enormous allowance to dissuade him from returning to foment insurrection. Sophia had a lavish upbringing; she was a goddaughter of Queen Victoria. As an elegant, lively young woman she was a trendsetter ... But by her early thirties she had joined the suffragettes, and she became a key figure in the movement. [This biography provides] a rare glimpse into imperialism's intimate effects, ... explores the forces that radicalized her, including an early trip to India and the British aristocracy's refusal to countenance mixed-race unions which prevented her from marrying." - "Briefly Noted", The New Yorker, January 19, 2015, p. 75.

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