Emory Professor and acclaimed historian of India, Ruby Lal is the author most recently of Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan, which won the Georgia Author of the Year Award in Biography and was a Finalist in History for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Among the top ten pick of Time Magazine, Telegraph and Prospect Magazine London, EMPRESS has been lauded by New Yorker, Guardian, New York Times, BBC, Indian Express. Lionsgate Studios has optioned Empress for a TV series. Lal is as well the author of Domesticity and Power in the Early Mughal World (2005) and Coming of Age in Nineteenth Century India: The Girl-Child and the Art of Playfulness (2013). Before joining Emory University, Lal taught at the Johns Hopkins University. She has received fellowships from the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies (SCAS) in 2020-21, and was invited Public Humanities Fellow at the Jackman Humanities Institute, University of Toronto in Fall 2022. Lal has written for the Lit-Hub, Atlanta Magazine, The Mint, Vogue India, the BBC, among other publications. She speaks frequently at international venues, bookstores, literary festivals and ecumenical and literary retreats. She lives in Atlanta.

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The Empress Leader

Four centuries ago, a Muslim woman ruled an empire. In 1611, thirty four year old Nur Jahan, daughter of a Persian aristocrat and widow of a subversive official, became the twentieth and favorite wife of Emperor Jahangir, who ruled the vast Mughal Empire of India. An astute politician, devoted partner, and the Empire’s best shot who killed killer tigers, Nur Jahan was the only woman to acquire the stature of co-sovereign. A talented architect, the mausoleum of her parents inspired her step-son’s Taj Mahal. Her confident assertion of talent and power is revelatory and far exceeds her contemporary European queens. Her legend lives, but her story was lost – until now.


• Women and Power

• Gender and Leadership


Vagabond Princess: The Great Adventures of Gulbadan

A captivating biography of one of the world’s greatest adventurers, the itinerant Mughal Princess Gulbadan, based on her long-forgotten memoir

Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan

Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan, rescuing this dazzling figure from patriarchal and Orientalist clichés of romance and intrigue.

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