Empress

The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan became the twentieth and favorite wife of the Emperor Jahangir, who ruled the vast Mughal Empire. An astute politician as well as a talented dress designer and innovative architect whose work inspired her stepson’s Taj Mahal, Nur was the only woman to acquire the stature of Empress in her male- dominated world. Here, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.

Empress Trailer

Empress

Empress
is a Finalist in the History Category of
2018 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes

Empress
has been nominated for the
55th Georgia Author of the Year Award (GAYA)
in the Biography category

“A luminous biography… It is a captivating account, its depth of detail recreating a world whose constraints of lineage would seem to preclude the advance of an unknown, self-made, widowed queen… Lal’s book is an act of feminist historiography.”
– Rafia Zakaria, Guardian

Special Accolades

Time Magazine

Featured in Time Magazine

The New York Times

Editors’ Choice / Staff Pick in the August 19 issue of The New York Times Book Review!

“In this scintillating, feminist, and exhaustively researched work of narrative history, Ruby Lal brings the legendary empress Nur Jahan to life in all of her glamour and power.”
– Molly Crabapple, Author of Drawing Blood and Brothers of the Gun

The Guardian

The Rise and Reign of a Self Made Mughal Queen” The Guardian reviews Empress

Kirkus

Kirkus gives Empress a starred review

Bookish

A must read!

BBC

A top ten read for July!

LitHub

Op-ed on Empress Nur Jahan and the Politics of Erasure in Modern India

Royal News Blog

features Empress

Khabar

reviews Empress

The Economist

reviews Empress

Telegraph

reviews Empress

India New England News

reviews Empress

Business Standard

reviews Empress

Quartz India

reviews Empress

Daily Times Pakistan

reviews Empress

Four centuries ago, a Muslim woman ruled an empire.
Her legend still lives, but her story was lost — until now.

Ruby Lal

Photo by Myron McGhee

Ruby Lal

Ruby Lal is an acclaimed historian of India. Her recently published biography, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (NY: W. W. Norton, 2018) is nominated as a finalist in History for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Among the top ten pick of the Time MagazineThe Telegraph and the Prospect Magazine London, EMPRESS has been lauded by The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, the BBCThe Indian ExpressBusiness Standard and numerous other national and international journals, magazines and newspapers. She is Professor of South Asian History at Emory University and divides her time between Atlanta and Delhi.

“Nur Jahan emerges from this biography as a spirited, brilliant and gifted leader. Nur’s story weaves into Lal’s gorgeous, nuanced portrait of the glittering splendour of the Mughal Empire and how its political, military and cultural destinies were shaped by this remarkable refugee-turned-empress.”
– Gareth Russell, Author of Young and Damned and Fair

More Books by Ruby Lal

Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World

Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World

Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India

Coming of Age in Nineteenth-Century India

“Ruby Lal’s marvelous account of Empress Nur Jahan’s life is as intriguing, inspiring, and relevant to us today in 21st century America, as it was to her times in 17th century India.”
– Azar Nafisi, author of Reading Lolita in Tehran