British writer and historian Patrick French died in London after a four-year battle with cancer, Thursday. In July 2017, French was also appointed as the inaugural dean of Ahmedabad University’s School of Arts and Sciences. He announced his resignation from the position in July 2022. In his announcement, French said he “will be taking a writing sabbatical, and look forward to returning to a new senior role in global strategy at Ahmedabad in 2023.″
Patrick was born in 1966 in England and studied literature at Edinburgh University. Younghusband, Liberty or Death, Tibet, and The World Is What It Is, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Hawthornden Prize, are among his works. He also received the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, the Heinemann Prize from the Royal Society of Literature, and the Somerset Maugham Award.
Author William Dalrymple wrote on Twitter, “Heartbroken to hear about the death of Patrick French, who I have loved and admired since we were both thirteen, and who was the Best Man at my wedding. He was funny & clever & charming, always full of enthusiasm & energy. He was also the greatest biographer of our generation.”
Mourning his demise, historian Ramchandra Guha said, “Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Patrick French. He was a wonderful writer, whose books on Francis Younghusband and VS Naipaul are classics of modern biographical writing. He was also a very fine human being, unfailingly generous to friends and strangers alike.”
Among those who sent in their tributes were Congress MP and author Shashi Tharoor, he tweeted that Profoundly saddened by the news of the passing of Patrick French today. Have just spoken with his mother-in-law to express my condolences. My heart goes out to their 4year old son Krishna. We have lost an outstanding writer & fine human being.
During the 1992 general election, French was a Green Party candidate for Parliament. He has served on the executive committee of Free Tibet, a Tibet Support Group in the United Kingdom, and was a founding member of the India-UK Round Table.
In 2011, Patrick released his book India: A Portrait, billed as “an intimate biography of 1.2 billion people”. The book is a narrative of the social and economic revolutions transforming India. As part of the book release, he also started an India-focused website called The India Site.