Great Battles: Isandlwana

The Battle of Isandlawana by Charles Edwin Fripp, 1885

Professor Ian Beckett tells the story of the Battle of Isandlwana and the subsequent defence of Rorke’s Drift, looking at the impact of the two events from both British and Zulu perspectives.

The defeat of British forces at the Battle of Isandlwana in January 1879 shocked the British public, who had grown accustomed to reports of easy military victories.

Isandlwana, the first battle of the Zulu War, saw more British troops lost than on any other single day between the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and the First World War (1914-18). Yet, immediately after this defeat, a small British garrison successfully fought off a huge Zulu force at Rorke’s Drift.

The cultural impact and legacy of these two contrasting events has been profound. While Isandlwana left a sombre legacy for many years, the story of the defence of Rorke’s Drift became legendary and was later the subject of the 1964 film 'Zulu'.

In addition to telling the story of each battle, Professor Ian Beckett will examine their impact from the British and the largely overlooked Zulu perspective.

This event is part of our new partnership with Oxford University Press. Join us over the coming year for a series of events that look at the world’s most important battles: how they were fought, how they have been commemorated, and the long historical shadows they have cast.

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"First time @NAM_London today. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the presentation & interpretation made the subject accessible..."