Britain’s Liberal Imperialist
The first biography of Thomas Macaulay, from child prodigy to imperial administrator in India and revered elder statesman and historian in Britain
Thomas Macaulay always inspired both admiration and hostility. He introduced English education to India, creating a class of westernised Indians often reviled as ‘Macaulay’s children’, but today many former ‘Untouchables’ literally worship him as their liberator from caste tyranny.
This biography gives a vivid insight into one of the towering intellects of Victorian Britain: a brilliant, complex, self-made man, who rose from middle-class origins to the highest circles of the world’s largest empire. We follow his meteoric journey from child prodigy to Whig parliamentary orator, then imperial administrator and liberal reformer in India, and later Cabinet minister, revered elder statesman and famed historian back in Britain.
Zareer Masani reclaims Macaulay as a pioneer of globalisation based on the English language and Western values. A strong advocate of liberal interventionism across the globe, he was the ideological precursor of today's Western military interventions in the world’s trouble-spots.
“Engrossing…written with brio and verve”
Philip Collins, The Times
“Zareer Masani has captured the life, the essence, the dazzle and the enduring impact of the extraordinary Lord Macaulay in this masterpiece of concision and explanation. It's high time Macaulay was brought back to life for those who seek to understand modern India and a contemporary Britain shaped more than it knows by its nineteenth-century experience”
“Brisk, well-written... Tightly argued”
John Kampfner, Observer
“An elegant mixture of polemic and biography”
Ian Jack, Prospect
“Masani makes a powerful and lucid case for a British statesman who profoundly influenced the course of Indian history and whose influence survives today, a case that is bound to stir up controversy”
“Zareer Masani is one of those rare historians who conveys insight and detail in a highly readable style as a result of of which his books are both thought-provoking and eye-opening”
“Writing with his customary elegance and insight, Masani goes beyond the stereotypes of Macaulay to show a difficult, complicated and very human man who, for better or worse, left his mark on both India and Britain. A thoroughly enjoyable and very welcome biography”
“Splendid and original”
Daniel Johnson, Standpoint