During 200 years the East India Company grew from a loose association of Elizabethan tradesmen into "the grandest society of merchants in the universe". As a commercial enterprise it came to control half the world's trade and as a political entity it administered an embryonic empire. Without it there would have been no British India and no British Empire. In a tapestry ranging from Southern Africa to north-west America, and from the reign of Elizabeth I to that of Victoria, bizarre locations and roguish personality abound. From Bombay to Singapore and Hong Kong the political geography of today is, in some respects, the result of the Company. This book looks at the history of the East India Company.