Raffles & the Golden Opportunity, with Victoria Glendinning

The Life & Deeds of Sir Stamford Raffles, (1781-1826)


The Ebenezers are absolutely delighted to welcome Victoria Glendinning for an illustrated lecture on her wonderful biography of Sir Stamford Raffles.

This is a really great story. Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826) was born Tom Raffles in Walworth, then a village outside London.

With no social advantages and little schooling, he became an adventurer and a utopian imperialist - clever, high–strung, energetic, physically fragile, impetuous, charming, articulate, and a disobedient employee of the East India Company.

His golden opportunity, at the end of his career in South-East Asia, was the planting of the British flag on the jungle-covered but strategically placed island of Singapore. He was also Lieutenant-Governor of Java, a naturalist, linguist and collector, and co-founder of the London Zoo.


Victoria Glendinning CBE

Victoria is the award-winning biographer of Elizabeth Bowen, Vita Sackville-West, Edith Sitwell, Rebecca West, Jonathan Swift, Anthony Trollope and Leonard Woolf. She has published three novels - The Grown-Ups, Electricity, and Flight – and is working on a fourth.

Her very first book A Suppressed Cry has just been reissued by Virago. She is a vice-president of English PEN and of the Royal Society of Literature, and a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation and of the Friends of the National Libraries. She lives and gardens in Somerset with her third husband Kevin O'Sullivan and has four sons, nine grandchildren, a cat and a dog.


'At last. A truly magnificent biography of the most incorrigible of empire-builders and a judicious and utterly compelling account of the man who would change the map of South East Asia.' John Keay

'Raffles, as Glendinning's fine biography makes clear, was an attractive and charismatic figure.' Financial Times

'A story that moves with the alacrity of an absorbing novel.' Scotsman

Victoria Glendinning is in danger of giving imperialism a good name.' Economist

2013Martin Keeley