Shrabani Basu

The 2018 Fairway Galle Literary Festival is delighted to welcome author Shrabani Basu.

FGLF 2018 Participant - Author Shrabani Basu

Shrabani Basu is an Indian author and journalist. She moved to London in 1987 and has since been a correspondent of the Calcutta-based paper Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph. In her career she has interviewed Benazir Bhutto, Salman Rushdie and Viv Richards amongst others.

Her book Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, (2010) covers the ‘secret’ friendship between Queen Victoria and her servant and confidant Abdul.

FGLF 2018 Author Book - Victoria and Abdul

The first time Shrabani Basu heard of Abdul Karim, she was carrying out research for a book about the history of curry in the late 1990s. A few years later, while on holiday, she came across a painting of Karim in Osborne House, a former private home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on the Isle of Wight.

She noted that Karim – whom she thought was a servant – had been painted “beautifully, in red and gold,” with a book in his hand.

FGLF 2018 - Participant Book Research - Painting of Abdul Karim

Karim’s painting sparked Shrabani‘s curiosity. Who was this young Muslim man from Agra, northern India, at the heart of Britain’s royal court? And what had his relationship with the Queen of England been like?

In 2006, she committed herself to researching Karim’s story. The resulting book, Victoria and Abdul: The True Story of the Queen’s Closest Confidant, would take her four years to research and write, and would later be adapted into a movie in 2017 starring Dame Judi Dench.

Shrabani Basu’s other work include Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish (2003), Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan (2006), and For King and Another Country: Indian Soldiers on the Western Front 1914-18 (2015).


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