Heart like a Fakir: General Sir James Abbott and the Fall of the East India Company

Date / time: 21 February, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

This lecture explores the final forty years of Company rule in India as witnessed by General Sir James Abbott, one of the most remarkable characters in colonial history. Soldier, Central Asian explorer and district commissioner who became King of Hazara, Abbott may have been the inspiration for Rudyard Kipling’s The Man Who Would Be King and the character of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Pakistani town of Abbottabad is named after him.

Drawing on Abbott’s voluminous papers, Chris Mason shows how social and sexual relationships between Britons and Indians broke down in the period leading up to 1857. His career illustrates how a British officer with a deep knowledge and love for India and exceptional personal qualities could be corrupted by power and insensitive to the social and cultural changes that led to the rebellions of 1857 and the end of Company rule.

Dr Chris Mason is Associate Professor of National Security at the US Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. A retired Foreign Service officer with extensive experience of Afghanistan and Pakistan, he is the author of Heart Like a Fakir: General Sir James Abbott and the Fall of the East India Company (Rowman & Littlefield 2022).

This is an online event. Bookings: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/heart-like-a-fakir-general-sir-james-abbott-and-the-fall-of-the-eic-tickets-419736672687