Romantic Liars pp 139-199 | Cite as

The Governor and the Princess

  • Debbie Lee


Although the British East India Company looms large in history, those who study its trajectory understand that it wasn’t so much a company as an epic character, with all the heroic hubris and high drama of a Lear, an Odysseus, or a David turned Goliath. The company started with a small a group of London speculators in 1600, but in less than two hundred years it had transformed into a corporate empire and is the prototype for today’s global capitalism. At its peak in the late eighteenth century, the East India Company ruled over a fifth of the world’s people, generated a revenue greater than the whole of Britain, and commanded a private army a quarter of a million strong.1 Everyone from the upper and middle classes knew someone who served in the company, and many families had sons, brothers, husbands, and/or fathers who worked as clerks, soldiers, sailors, and traders. Everyone consumed company-traded goods, transporting Eastern commodities in their blood.2 In many ways, the East India Company defined what it meant to be British.


East India Company Foreign Woman Malay Language Prince Regent Bronze Statue 
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© Debbie Lee 2006

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  • Debbie Lee

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