The Last King in India : Wajid Ali Shah

01 August 2014

Rosie Llewellyn-Jones

Random House India

352 pages, Rs.599

Llewellyn-Jones, a noted historian, reconstructs the life of Wajid Ali Shah: the last king of Awadh. Wajid Ali lived large until his death in 1887, and his memory continues to divide opinion today. He was a constant thorn in the side of the ruling British government, and his extravagance was widely remarked upon. Yet there was something striking, both for Wajid Ali’s subjects and his detractors, about a man who refused to bow to changing times, and who single-handedly endeavoured to preserve the etiquette and customs of the Mughals well into the time of the British Raj. Llewellyn-Jones’s painstaking research attempts to rescue the memory of a ruler who was largely written out of history after his kingdom was annexed by the British East India Company in 1856.