Ramachandra Guha’s Rebels Against the Raj: Western Fighters for India’s Freedom was announced the winner of the 2023 Elizabeth Longford Prize for Historical Biography on Monday. He was awarded £5,000 and a bound copy of Elizabeth Longford’s memoir, The Pebbled Shore.
This year’s jury was chaired by Roy Foster and comprised Antonia Fraser, Flora Fraser, Richard Davenport-Hines and Rana Mitter.
“...the author’s deep empathy and impressive scholarship are lit up by a passionate regard for his subjects,” Foster said. “The book profiles seven people, from Britain, America, and Ireland, who adopted India’s struggle for independence and in doing so found their own destinies. In tracing their relationships revolving around the magnetic figure of Gandhi, Guha adds a new perspective to the Mahatma’s life. Rebels Against the Raj shows how historical biography can illuminate the temper of the times through immersion in individual lives.”
He added: “As Guha points out, oppression does not disappear with the ending of colonial rule, and the ideas and priorities incisively drawn out in this book deserve urgent attention in today’s India.”
Founded in 2003 by Flora Fraser and Peter Soros to honour the life of British historian Elizabeth Longford, the prize honours a historical biography that combines scholarship and narrative drive. Longford died in 2002.