India Dark

The Lilliputians


Young adult - Historical fiction


Allen & Unwin (AUS)
Templar (UK)
Young Zubaan (INDIA)

A story of secrets, lies and lost innocence.

MADRAS 1910: Poesy Swift and Tilly Sweetrick are caught up in a scandal that will change their lives forever.

Singing and dancing across a hundred stages as members of a troupe of child performers, they travel into the heart of India. But as one disaster follows another, money runs short and tempers fray. What must the girls do to protect themselves and how many lives will be ruined if they try to break free?

Based on a true story, India Dark recreates shifting friendships, the clash of innocence versus experience, set against the backdrop of India in the age of Empire.

Published in India as The Lilliputians the novel tells the story of twenty-nine young performers, aged between seven and eighteen years of age, who boarded a steam ship at Port Melbourne in July 1909. The real children were members of Pollard’s Lilliputian Opera Company, a famous Australian theatre company that is recreated as Perceval’s Lilliputian Opera Company in this book. The children were meant to be setting out on a two-year world tour but eight months later, the tour ended in scandal in South India.


  • NSW Premier’s History Award – Winner - The Young People’s History Prize 2011
  • CBCA Notable Book 2011

Reviews of India Dark

  • A powerful and convincing transformation of fact to fiction… a fascinating tale.
    ABC Radio
  • Petty jealousies, ambition and unstable relationships are a heady concoction in a hot and foreign land. India Dark… is a dramatic, engaging and complex tale. Beautifully written and impeccably researched, it shows us that there is always more than one side to a story, particularly where emotions are involved. Murray has given us a real gem.
    Caroline Baum, Good Reading
  • …an absorbing work of historical fiction based on a real Edwardian scandal… a sharp, accessible and atmospheric tale populated by memorable characters.
    Cameron Woodhead, The Age, Book of the Week
  • Guaranteed to grab the attention of young readers… the novel chugs along like a powerful sub-continental steam train.
  • This is a beautifully recreated, intriguing tale of trust, deceit, betrayal and love in an empire on the precipice of decline. Highly recommended.
    Reading Time
  • Based on a true story, Kirsty Murray has opened up an amazing portion of history that will thrill readers who love historical fiction… left me thinking about the power of truth, lies, loyalty, friendship and gossip.
    Pat Pledger, Read Plus