The Last Prince of Bengal

The Last Prince of Bengal

A Family’s Journey from an Indian Palace to the Australian Outback

9781908906465 July 2021 Hardback 256pp 25 black and white illustrations, 2 maps

About the Book

The Nawab Nazim was born into one of India’s most powerful royal families. Three times the size of Great Britain, his kingdom ranged from the soaring Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal. However, the Nawab was seen as a threat by the British authorities, who forced him to abdicate in 1880 and permanently abolished his titles. The Nawab’s change in fortune marked the end of an era in India and left his secret English family abandoned.

 The Last Prince of Bengal tells the true story of the Nawab Nazim and his family as they sought by turns to befriend, settle in and eventually escape Britain. From glamourous receptions with Queen Victoria to a scandalous Muslim marriage with an English chambermaid; and from Bengal tiger hunts to sheep farming in the harsh Australian outback, Lyn Innes recounts her ancestors’ extraordinary journey from royalty to relative anonymity.

This compelling account visits the extremes of British rule in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, exposing complex prejudices regarding race, class and gender. It is the intimate story of one family and their place in defining moments of recent Indian, British and Australian history.

About the Author

Lyn Innes is Emeritus Professor of Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, Canterbury. Born and educated in Australia, she moved to North America and developed her interest in cultural nationalism, focusing on Irish, African, African American and Caribbean literatures. She earned a PhD from Cornell University and taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she became associate editor of OKIKE: An African Journal of New Writing, founded by Chinua Achebe. Innes has co-edited two volumes of African short stories with Achebe.


‘A rich tapestry of family narrative … A masterpiece ... a spellbinding family history.’
Irish Times

‘A fascinating insight into the British Raj in India … Innes shows with unsettling effect how historical prejudices are still prevalent in modern times.’
Asian Review of Books

‘Lyn Innes explores her ancestors’ history in moving detail, capturing the tragic story of the dethroned princes of Bengal.’
Shrabani Basu, author of Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidante

‘Lovingly researched and meticulously told, The Last Prince of Bengal is notable for its candid revelations of British colonial attitudes and hypocrisies across two centuries. A rich, delightful and unexpectedly thought-provoking saga.’
Richard Holmes, author of This Long Pursuit: Reflections of a Romantic Biographer

‘Innes tells her extraordinary and engrossing family history. The Last Prince of Bengal tells us about the multitude histories we carry within, and the humiliations that race, class and faith perpetuate.’
Salil Tripathi, author of The Colonel Who Would Not Repent: The Bangladesh War and its Unquiet Legacy

‘This vivid and compelling family history offers fascinating insights into social status sensibilities in the age of empire.’
Gardner Thompson, author of Legacy of Empire: Britain, Zionism and the Creation of Israel