Lubaaba Al-Azami

Dr Lubaaba Al-Azami is a cultural historian of early modern England and its relationships with the wider world beyond Europe. She speaks and writes on topics ranging from history, literature and religion to theatre and film criticism. Her speaking engagements have spanned from local radio to national festivals and she has written across an array of print and digital media.

Lubaaba completed her doctorate, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), at the University of Liverpool and the University of Oxford, where she examined 16th and 17th century English interactions with Mughal India. She has also variously studied, researched and taught at King’s College London, the School of Oriental and African Studies and the George Washington University.

She is the founder of Medieval and Early Modern Orients, an AHRC-funded project on the early interactions between England and the Islamic worlds. There she leads a transnational team of researchers to produce resources, publications and outreach events on this rich history. She is also founder of Network of Sisters in Academia, the first international professional network for Muslim women academics. She lectures in Shakespeare & Early Modern Literature at the University of Manchester.


Travellers in the Golden Realm

Lubaaba Al-Azami

Travellers in the Golden Realm Lubaaba Al-Azami cover - website

When the first English travellers in India encountered an unimaginable superpower, their meetings would change the world.

Before the East India Company and before the British Empire, England was a pariah state. Seeking better fortunes, 16th and 17th century merchants, pilgrims and outcasts ventured to the kingdom of the mighty Mughals, attempting to sell coarse woollen broadcloth along the silk roads; playing courtiers in the Mughal palaces in pursuit of love; or simply touring the sub-continent in search of an elephant to ride.

Into this golden realm went Father Thomas Stephens, a Catholic fleeing his home; the merchant Ralph Fitch looking for jewels in the markets of Delhi; and John Mildenhall, an adventurer revelling in the highwire politics of the Mughal elite. It was a land ruled from the palatial towers by women – the formidable Empress Nur Jahan Begim, the enterprising Queen Mother Maryam al-Zamani, and the intrepid Princess Jahanara Begim. Their collision of worlds helped connect East and West, launching a tempestuous period of globalisation spanning from the Chinese opium trade to the slave trade in the Americas.

Drawing on rich, original sources, Lubaaba Al-Azami traces the origins of a relationship between two nations – one outsider and one superpower – whose cultures remain inextricably linked to this day.

‘A compelling, highly readable account of the earliest phase of English presence in India – Al-Azami deftly combines familiar stories with significantly less familiar figures to vividly bring to life a period of immense change for both nations involved’

— Nandini Das, author of Courting India