Empress

The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

In 1611, thirty-four-year-old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian noble and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and favorite wife of the Emperor Jahangir, who ruled the vast Mughal Empire. An astute politician as well as a devoted partner, she issued imperial orders; coins of the realm bore her name. When Jahangir was imprisoned by a rebellious nobleman, the Empress led troops into battle and ultimately rescued him.

The only woman to acquire the stature of empress in her male-dominated world, Nur was also a talented dress designer and innovative architect whose work inspired her stepson’s Taj Mahal. Nur’s confident assertion of talent and power is revelatory; it far exceeded the authority of her female contemporaries in Renais­sance Europe, including Elizabeth I. Here, she finally receives her due in a deeply researched and evocative biography that awakens us to a fascinating history.

Available July 3, 2018

Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

$27.95 hardcover (Canada $36.95)
ISBN 978-0-393-23934-8
320 pages
More information at W.W. Norton & Company
Read about Empress at Penguin India

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

Praise for Empress

This is an outstanding book, not only incredibly important but also a fabulous piece of writing. Here, India’s greatest Empress is reborn in all her fascinating glory in a luminescent account of her life and times. Ruby Lal has written a classic – one of the best biographies to come out this year and certainly the best ever of Nur Jahan.
Amanda Foreman, author of The World Made by Women
What an extraordinary and detailed account of a remarkable woman – amazing! A very impressive, thorough, poetic, humane work.
Deepa Mehta, filmmaker and screenwriter
An enchanting evocation of the brilliant Mughal empire with a tender tribute to India’s first female leader: lush and sensuous, a jewel box of a book.
Rosalind Miles, author of The Women’s History of the World
With stern adoration and a steady hand, Ruby Lal has boldly recut the crown jewel that was Nur Jahan. Proceeding now by the archive and now on a hunch, she discards the romantic Nur while rescuing countless piquant details of everyday life in Mughal times. In her nimble telling battles and skirmishes, hunt, harem, camp, and picnic come to vivid life even as the central story unpacks its riches. Her exemplary Nur (in pants, with a gun, from a striking miniature of the time) corrects a gender slant and refits the heroine for fresh adventures. Her empress, burnished and reset, product of a lapidary’s patience and address, is a triumph worthy of the original.
Allan Sealy, Novelist
The panoramic sweep of this extraordinary feminist history is matched by the exquisite storytelling, that brings the magnificence of the Mughal Court and the intricacies of its statecraft to life.
Namita Gokhale, Writer, Publisher, Founder-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival along with William Dalrymple

“An enchanting evocation of the brilliant Mughal empire with a tender tribute to India’s first female leader: lush and sensuous, a jewel box of a book.”Rosalind Miles
author of The Women’s History of the World

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