The battle of Rorke’s Drift: a symbol of empire

On 22 January 1879, 150 British troops fought 4,000 Zulu warriors at Rorke's Drift. To Victorian readers, the stand became one of the supreme symbols of imperial heroism. But the battle is still clad in the 'myths of empire', as Dominic Sandbrook explains

Alphonse de Neuville's 1880 painting 'The Defence of Rorke's Drift'. The battle was to become a "supreme symbol of imperial heroism". (Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty images)

This article was first published in the January 2012 issue of BBC History Magazine

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now