Victoria & Abdul

This book by Shrabani Basu has been made into a film that stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.

Shrabani Basu

(Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

Tall, handsome Abdul was just 24 years old when he arrived in England from Agra to wait at tables for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Within a year, Abdul had grown to become a powerful figure at court, the Queen's teacher, or Munshi, her counsel on Urdu and Indian affairs, and a friend close to the Queen's heart.

This marked the beginning of the most scandalous decade in Queen Victoria's long reign. Devastated first by the death of Prince Albert in 1861 and then her personal servant John Brown in 1883, Queen Victoria quickly found joy in an intense and controversial relationship with her Munshi, who travelled everywhere with her, cooked her curries and cultivated her understanding of the Indian sub-continent — a region, as Empress of India, she was long intrigued by but could never visit. The royal household roiled with resentment, but their devotion grew in defiance of all expectation and the societal pressures of their time and class and lasted until the Queen's death in 1901.

Drawn from never-before-seen firsthand documents that had been closely guarded secrets for a century, Shrabani Basu's Victoria & Abdul is a remarkable history of the last years of the 19th century in English court, an unforgettable view onto the passions of an aging Queen, and a fascinating portrayal of how a young Indian Muslim came to play a central role at the heart of the British Empire. (From Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

An upcoming film version of Victoria & Abdul stars Judi Dench and Ali Fazal.

More about this book