Victoria & Abdul: The True Story of the Queen's Closest Confidant

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Random House LCC US, Aug 29, 2017 - Biography & Autobiography - 334 pages
2 Reviews
Soon to be a Major Motion Picture starring Dame Judi Dench from director Stephen Frears, releasing September 22, 2017.


Tall and handsome Abdul was just twenty-four 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. "I am so very fond of him.," Queen Victoria would write in 1888, "He is so good and gentle and understanding....a real comfort to me."
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 traveled 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 on January 22, 1901.
Drawn from never-before-seen first-hand 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.

 

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User Review  - lauriebrown54 - LibraryThing

By the time Queen Victoria started the last decade of her life, she had lost her beloved Prince Albert in 1861 and her Scottish personal servant, John Brown, in 1883- many people speculated that she ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - briandrewz - LibraryThing

As someone who didn't really have any knowledge about Victoria's Indian Secretary, the Munshi, I really didn't go into this book with any preconceived notions. This is an excellent study examining the ... Read full review

Contents

Authors Note
6
Queen Victorias Family Tree
19
Agra
31
AJubilee Present
59
Curries and Highlanders
93
A Grant of Land
118
Indian Affairs
141
The Viceroy Receives a Christmas Card
173
Munshimania
233
Redemption
257
Death of a Queen
273
Last Days in Agra
282
Endgame
293
Epilogue
307
Notes and Sources
313
Bibliography
321

The Household Conspires
188
Rebellion in the Ranks
209

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About the author (2017)

Shrabani Basu was born in Kolkata and grew up in Dhaka, Kathmandu and Delhi. She moved to London in 1987 and is a correspondent for the Kolkata-based newspapers Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph. She is also the author of Curry: The Story of the Nation's Favourite Dish and the critically acclaimed biography Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan. She lives in London.

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