Published By: Ahvana Paul

The Great Women Of History- Recovering Her Story!

Do you ever wonder why we hardly hear about women in history, as if they didn’t exist? The truth is, they were always there, just rarely acknowledged! In recent times, however, books have been written which challenge this patriarchal narrative, by highlighting famous women who changed the world, and without whose contribution, history would have taken a very different path!

The Last Queen by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni –

Divakaruni’s masterful book traces the life of Maharani Jindan Kaur, the last and favorite wife of  Maharana Ranjit Singh, the last ruler of Lahore. From being the daughter of the royal dog-keeper, she rose to the highest ranks! The story begins with her love affair with the Maharaja, their marriage, her acceptance within the royal zenana, and after the Maharaja’s death, her guidance of the Khalsa army against the encroaching British and took important decisions as regent while her six-year-old son, Dalip was forced to ascend the throne. Unfortunately, Lahore was lost and she was exiled condemned, and humiliated. Yet, she persevered, driven by her desire to reunite with her son, from whom she had been separated! This heart-wrenching narrative instills the realization that courageous women were also involved in the resistance against the encroachment of the British in India.

Eleanor Marx by Rachel Holmes–

Eleanor Marx, the daughter of the famous Karl Marx, was a revolutionary, feminist-socialist. This book traces her personal and political life, her bond with Marx and Engels( the establishers of communism) both of whom she assisted with their seminal works, influencing and helping to shape their ideologies. It also traces her personal tragedies, her literary and theatrical pursuits manifest in her translation of Madame Bovary and interest in the playwright Henrik Ibsen, and finally her horrible but mysterious death. Holmes through this compelling book brings to us a story of a fiery woman who gave shape to a whole new politics and hope in the world of capitalist exploitation, as well as an insight into her personal life.

Empress by Ruby Lal

In this riveting account, Lal brings to us the story of the most famous queen of the Mughal empire, Nur Jahan, wife of Jahangir. Lal describes how Nur Jahan participated in administration, took decisions on behalf of emperor Jahangir,  had coins minted in her name, engaged in trade, hunted with utmost capability, and once even lead an army to save the emperor when he was captured. Through this book, Lal undoes the oriental myth, that women were just sexual beings, primarily aiming to please the emperor. What sketches out is the portrait of a smart, shrewd, intelligent, and pragmatic woman without whom the Mughal empire would not have survived.