Azimullah Khan: behind the scenes leader of the 1857 rebellion


This is a portrait, believed to be drawn from life by Richard Doyle,

uncle of Arthur Conan Doyle, of the man who stood behind the scenes

and pushed India into war: Azi mullah Khan

Much is  known about this shrewd and careful man. How, as a boy from a British charity school, he had to wait on British officers at table,  how he harboured his resentment against the British and how he spent every waking minute thinking how he could chase them out of his country. He is also dis credited with getting Tatya Tope, field commander of the rebellion, to give the order for the butchering of over 100 British women and children, an act which made the titular leader of the rebellion, Nana Sahib, totally committed to a break with the British and an act of open warfare.

Nana and Tatya Tope were the official leaders, but the shrewd, ruthless and secretive Azimullah Khan is believed by many to have been the real  leader of the rebellion. He visited London in order to try to get a pension for Nana Sahib before the rebellion broke out. He made friends, even feminine conquests, but all the while he was watching for ways he could destroy the British. On his way back to India, he stopped to observe the Crimean war and was delighted to see the British beaten so badly by their Russian foes. The British were starving, wounded and nearly destroyed. An education in their vulnerabilities for the former charity school boy.

He returned to India vowing to destroy his enemies with Nana Sahib as his cats paw.

Once the rebellion started in May 1857, Azimullah Khan disappears from the pages of history. Was he killed? Or, did he flee India with an English woman named, Clayton, as some witnesses were reputed to say?

The riddle of Azimullah Khan is one that has always fascinated me. After researching my book on Lucknow and the British Raj and based on what I’ve learned, there are a few tantalizing possibilities. He may have eluded British troops in the Terai wetlands, he may even have left the country with a woman named, Clayton. I explore these possible scenarios in my book Lucknow Shadows of Empire.

If you want to find out more


About hudsonhousemysteries

I am a graphic artist. My work is based on photography and I am also a writer of historical novels, specializing in the Victorian era with a strong emphasis on the historical connections between that time and this.I began writing by working with my late father, Alvin Schwartz, who wrote Superman and Batman comics for more than twenty years. Starting very early, about age six, I plotted comic book stories then moved on to writing film, advertising and fiction ranging from young person’s novels to my current historical novels In addition to telling a good yarn, I like to use an historical perspective to comment on modern issues. I learned about art from my mother who was one of Hans Hofmann's students and had one of the last show at Peggy Guggenheim's in NYC. I have had one man shows in Montreal and Toronto. My art website is Alan
This entry was posted in 19th century India, 19th century Lucknow, the British Raj, the Indian Mutiny and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s