Shrabani Basu is the author of books such as Spy Princess, Victoria and Abdul, and For King and Another Country. She graduated in History from St Stephen’s College, Delhi and completed her Masters from Delhi University. In 1983, she began her career as a trainee journalist in the bustling offices of The Times of India in Bombay (Mumbai). Since 1987, Basu has been the London correspondent of Ananda Bazar Patrika group –writing for Sunday, Ananda Bazar Patrika, and The Telegraph.
Basu has appeared on radio and TV in the UK and founded the Noor Inayat Khan Memorial Trust for a memorial for the Second World War heroine which was unveiled in 2012. Her first novel was “Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish”
“Just Keep At It… believe in your subject and believe in yourself.”
Discussion with Author Shrabani Basu about Spy Princess and her other books
- Shrabani believes that as a journalist, she had been writing for quite a while, but as an author, book writing was a different experience.
- Her first novel was Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish, and she followed it up with Spy Princess-The Story of Noor Inayat Khan.
- Shrabani calls herself “old school author” and has been a slow adopter of social media,hough she has a presence on Twitter.
- Shrabani’s books take three to four years because she likes to put in a lot of time for research. She is a speaker and uses as the speaking opportunities as a means to engage with the audience.She is uncomfortable with using technology during presentations.
- Shrabani’s first book in India was titled Curry In the Crown in India, which was re-published as Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish in the UK.
- She had written a chapter in a book on Nirad C Choudhury’s 110th birthday. Harper Collins (the publisher of this book) liked her writing, and they commissioned her to write Curry: The Story of the Nation’s Favourite Dish.
- Shrabani’s second book Spy Princess was based on the life of Noor Inayat Khan. Shrabani had heard about her since her journalist days, and was intrigued by her. When she discussed with her publisher that she wanted to write about Noor Inayat Khan, they liked the idea. It took her three years of research to write her first biography.
- Within weeks of publishing, the book went into second print run in the UK. This book was published in India six months later, and it went into 5 print runs.
- Noor Inayat Khan was a descent of Tipu Sultan and a spy for the British during Second World War. She was a recipient of George Cross, UK’s highest honor. She worked in Paris, and was captured by the Germans and ultimately was killed in Dachau in a concentration camp at the age of 30.
- Noor Inayat Khan believed that fighting Hitler’s army was more important at that point in time, but she was clear that she would fight for India’s independence at the end of Second World War.
- According to Shrabani, writing personal stories is one of the oldest ways in which Journalists have communicated with the audience.But she puts in three to four years for every book, in her words, large chunks of her life are devoted to these books.
- She relishes the experience, it is a voyage of discovery for her, and she believes in being thorough, and puts in a lot of effort to put in the research.
- The idea for Victoria and Abdul: The Story of The Queen’s Closest Confidant generated when she was researching for her book Curry…. When her agent concurred with Abdul was a clerk from Agra jail, and he went to the UK as a part of celebrations. The Queen took a liking to him, and he became her teacher, and personal secretary, for 13 years until her death. Queen Victoria learnt Urdu from him.
- Shrabani believes that her audience range from school going girls, lovers of books on Royalty, armed forces..her readership is very diverse.
- Her latest book was written when the Centenary of the First World War was being celebrated. 1.5 Million Indians crossed the Kalapani (dark Waters) and came to Europe to fight the First World War. Many perished,some won Victoria Crosses.
- The characters in the book include soldiers from Garhwal, even a Prince from Rajasthan.
- Shrabani’s Book Recommendation: Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Its a book on romance and has several genres combined.
- She believes that history is very important and it is not taught well in schools, and she is capturing history through her books.
Links to Shrabani’s Books:
Amazon.com author page