Deborah Baker: The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire

We are thrilled to welcome award-winning author Deborah Baker as she discusses and signs copies of her new book, The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire on Wednesday, November 7th at 6:30 PM at The Book Stall. This event is free and open to the public. We ask that you purchase your copy of The Last Englishmen from The Book Stall if you intend on entering the book-signing queue.

John Auden was a pioneering geologist of the Himalaya. Michael Spender was the first to draw a detailed map of the North Face of Mount Everest. While their younger brothers--W. H. Auden and Stephen Spender--achieved literary fame, they vied to be included on an expedition that would deliver Everest's summit to an Englishman, a quest that had become a metaphor for Britain's struggle to maintain power over India. To this rivalry was added another: in the summer of 1938 both men fell in love with a painter named Nancy Sharp. Her choice would determine where each man's wartime loyalties would lie.

Set in Calcutta, London, the glacier-locked wilds of the Karakoram, and on Everest itself, The Last Englishmen is also the story of a generation. The cast of this exhilarating drama includes Indian and English writers and artists, explorers and Communist spies, Die Hards and Indian nationalists, political rogues and police informers. Key among them is a highborn Bengali poet named Sudhin Datta, a melancholy soul torn, like many of his generation, between hatred of the British Empire and a deep love of European literature, whose life would be upended by the arrival of war on his Calcutta doorstep.

Dense with romance and intrigue, and of startling relevance for the great power games of our own day, Deborah Baker's The Last Englishmen is an engrossing story that traces the end of empire and the stirring of a new world order.

The Wall Street Journal says, "In her ambitious new book, The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire, [Deborah Baker] brings to bear this art of juxtaposition upon a much-told story, the last two decades of the British Empire in India, to create something wholly original. . . . It is to Ms. Baker's credit that she keeps the big events always in view, dramatizing and humanizing the workings of history, particularly the story of empire and its machinations, in a way a novelist would--by making it a story of individuals. She understands everything about these people, the details of their lives, the connections and the criss-crossings, intersections, overlaps, friends-of-lovers-of-friends. It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that there is something Tolstoyan to her vast project."


Deborah Baker is the author of In Extremis: The Life of Laura Riding, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, as well as A Blue Hand; The Beats in India. She divides her time between Calcutta, Goa, and Brooklyn.

Event date: 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - 6:30pm to 7:30pm

Event address: 

The Book Stall
811 Elm Street
Winnetka, IL 60093
The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555978044
Availability: On Our Shelves to call before coming in to pick up.
Published: Graywolf Press - August 21st, 2018

A sumptuous biographical saga, both intimate and epic, about the waning of the British Empire in India