Invitation to Book Launch: “A Glimpse of Empire”

See invitation below extended to all interested – looks like a fascinating book and exhibition:

Powerscourt Estate is delighted to welcome Jessica Douglas Home to launch her book ‘A Glimpse of Empire’ at Powerscourt House. The book depicts Lilah Wingfield’s visit to India for the December 1911 Royal Durbar, where the new King, George V, is to be proclaimed Emperor of India. Lilah Wingfield grew up at Powerscourt Estate in Wicklow, so it is fitting that the Irish launch of the book should take place here.

The book launch takes place on 2nd April at 6.30pm in the Garden Rooms at Powerscourt House. Jessica will give a short talk and there will be an exhibition of over 150 photographs documenting Lilah’s journey through India a hundred years ago. Jessica will hold a second talk on 3rd April at 1pm at Powerscourt House. The photo exhibition is available for viewing from 3rd to 4th of April between 09.30am and 5.30 pm. To register to attend please contact Aoife O’ Driscoll (Ph. (01) 204 6009 /E: No booking is required to visit the exhibition. All events are free of charge. For more information please visit


A Glimpse of Empire

In the autumn of 1911, 23 year old Lilah Wingfield travels to India for the Royal Durbar. There she sees George V crowned Emperor of India, the apex of a fortnight of relentless ceremony, unheard-of extravagance and imposing military spectacle, in the setting of a vast Tented City complete with its own farms, railway, telegraph and post offices. She meets many of the most remarkable colonial characters of the day, including some of the foremost Indian Princes, vying to stage the most lavish display to prove their devotion to the Raj.

As the tents are dismantled, Lilah travels through India – to the dangerous Khyber Pass on the Afghan border, to Rajasthan, to the gory sites of the Mutiny and to stay with India’s only female Ruler, the Begum of Bhopal – an extraordinary adventure for a single girl. Her diary shows her deepening awareness of the ambivalence of certain maharajas towards British Rule even while she is being entertained royally in their lakeside palaces. Her Irish upbringing gives her an instinctive feeling for the mixture of their longing for independence and affection for their mother country. The book is copiously illustrated by her own photographs.

The story behind the diary is even more remarkable – it was found in a second hand book shop by a total stranger, in Holt in Norfolk, who realised from the diary that Lilah was a cousin of a local landowner, the Earl of Leicester, and sent the diary back to her family. The Leicesters gave the diary to Lilah’s granddaughter Jessica.

About the Author:

Jessica Douglas-Home is the author of Violet: The Life and Loves of Violet Gordon Woodhouse (1996), and Once Upon Another Time (2000).  To learn more about ‘A Glimpse of Empire’ visit

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