Advance Praise for Vagabond Princess
Vagabond Princess is a deeply feminist text interrogating the making of archives, obsessed with imagining the spirit of freedom and love of learning in certain Mughal women, with a stunning buildup of the concept-metaphor of mujawir as “vagabond.” A splendid teaching text, but also a reading text for sheer instructive pleasure; as we follow the epistemological performance of the making of the book with the book itself.
— Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, author of Other Asias
An astonishing work by one of the most exciting historians writing today. Vagabond Princess is more than just a brilliant page-turner of a biography, narrating in vivid detail a story few people know. It is a passionate and compelling argument to place the extraordinary Gulbadan among the pantheon of great adventurers like Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo. I loved this book.
—Reza Aslan, author of Zealot and An American Martyr in Persia
Meticulous archival research combines with a strikingly imaginative evocation of the world inhabited by Mughal women in Ruby Lal’s writing. Whether set against the dust and grit of imperial caravans, salt-lashed sea voyages, or the manicured precision of Mughal gardens, her vagabond princess, Gulbadan, surprises us at every turn. A superb achievement.
—Nandini Das, author of Courting India: Seventeenth-Century England, Mughal India, and the Origins of Empire
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.
Podcast: Not Just the Tudors
Nur Jahan: Empress of Mughal India
“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
“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
Four centuries ago, a Muslim woman ruled an empire.
Her legend still lives, but her story was lost — until now.
Empress in the Media
Photo by Myron McGhee
Ruby Lal is an acclaimed historian of India. Her recently published biography, Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (NY: W. W. Norton, 2018; Paperback 2020) won the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award in Biography, and was also a finalist in History for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Among the top ten pick of the Time Magazine, The Telegraph and the Prospect Magazine London, EMPRESS has been lauded by The New Yorker, The Guardian, The New York Times, the BBC, The Indian Express, Business 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
Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (Penguin India)
Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan (Hindi translation)
Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World
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