Oxford Events Calendar

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William Dalrymple ‘The Golden Road’ at St Mary Magdalen Church

Tuesday, September 17, 2024 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Join us for an evening with bestselling historian William Dalrymple as he discusses his latest book, ‘The Golden Road’.

The Golden Road

India was the forgotten heart of the ancient world

For a millennium and a half, from about 250 BC to 1200 AD, India was a confident exporter of its diverse civilisation, creating around it a vast empire of ideas, an ‘Indosphere’ where its influence was predominant. During this period, the rest of Asia was the willing recipient of a mass-transfer of Indian soft power. Indian art, religions, technology, astronomy, music, dance, literature, mathematics and mythology blazed a trail across the world, along a Golden Road that stretched from the Red Sea to the Pacific, connecting different places and ideas to one another.

Like ancient Greece, ancient India came up with a set of profound answers to the big questions about what the world is, how it operates, why we are here and how we should live our lives. Out of India came holy men, monks and missionaries as well as pioneering merchants and artists, astronomers and healers, scientists and mathematicians. The Golden Road highlights India’s oft-forgotten position as a crucial economic and civilisational hub at the heart of ancient Eurasia.

Multiple award-winning historian William Dalrymple gives a name to this spread of Indian ideas that transformed the world; crossing political borders and influencing everything they touched, from statues of Indian ascetics erected in Roman seaports to Cambodian friezes of the Mahabharata, from the Buddhism of Japan to the Hindu rituals of Bali, from the echoes of Sanskrit poems found in Chinese poetry to the discovery of the algorithm and the observatories of Baghdad.

Over half the world’s population lives in areas where Indian religions and culture are, or once were, dominant. Meanwhile India’s intellectual influence travelled far to the West, giving us not only crucial mathematical concepts such as zero, but also the very numbers we use to this day: arguably the nearest thing humanity has to a universal language. Drawing from a lifetime of scholarship, Dalrymple argues that India is the great intellectual and philosophical superpower of ancient Asia.

William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is one of Britain’s great historians and the bestselling author of the Wolfson Prize-winning White Mughals, The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize, and the Hemingway and Kapuściński award-winning Return of a King. His most recent book, The Anarchy, was long-listed for the Baillie Gifford Prize 2019, and shortlisted for the Duke of Wellington Medal for Military History, the Tata Book of the Year (Non-fiction) and the Historical Writers Association Book Award 2020. It was a Finalist for the Cundill Prize for History and won the 2020 Arthur Ross Bronze Medal from the US Council on Foreign Relations.

A frequent broadcaster, he has written and presented three television series, one of which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA. He has also won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, The Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Foreign Correspondent of the Year at the FPA Media Awards, and been awarded five honorary doctorates. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and has held visiting fellowships at Princeton, Brown and Oxford. He writes regularly for the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker, and the Guardian. In 2018, he was presented with the prestigious President’s Medal by the British Academy for his outstanding literary achievement and for co-founding the Jaipur Literature Festival. He was named one of the world’s top 50 thinkers for 2020 by Prospect.

William lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi.


Tuesday, September 17, 2024
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm


Saint Mary Magdalen
9 Magdalen Street
Oxford, England OX1 3AE United Kingdom


Blackwell’s, Broad Street Oxford
View Organiser Website

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