William Sleeman and the East India Company
by Miranda Carter

Date: Thursday 7 February 2019

Born in Stratton, Cornwall in 1779, Sleeman is known as the army officer and civil servant who suppressed the Thugs uprisings in India.

William Sleeman and the East India Company

                                                                      Group of Thugs about to strangle their victim


The Thugs were gangs of bandits who roamed the roads of India in the early 19th century, befriending then murdering unwary (Indian) travellers. William Sleeman was their nemesis, a remarkable, now largely forgotten soldier turned administrator, with a genius for organization and great intellectual curiosity. He was the first person to collect and identify dinosaur fossils in India; the first to collect the stories about Wolf children that later inspired the Jungle Book; and he was the man who ruthlessly crushed the Thugs, while also studying and writing about them. But were the Thugs actually who he said they were? New research has raised all kinds of questions about Sleeman, the East India Company he served, and his claims.

Miranda (MJ) Carter is a biographer, novelist and broadcaster. Her first book, 'Anthony Blunt: His Lives' (2001) won the Orwell prize and the Royal Society of Literature WH Heinemann award.  She is also the author of 'The Three Emperors: Three Cousins, Three Empires and the Road to World War One'  (2009), and a series of historical thrillers set in the India and Britain of the 1830s and '40s: 'The Strangler Vine'  (2014), 'The Printer’s Coffin' (2015), and 'The Devil’s Feast' (2016).

She lives in London with her husband and two sons and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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