Madhulika Liddle

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Madhulika Liddle (born 8 January 1973) is an Indian writer who writes in English. She is best known for her books featuring the 17th century Mughal detective Muzaffar Jang, although she is also a prolific writer of short fiction, travel writing, and writing related to classic cinema.

Madhulika Liddle

Background and Personal Life[edit]

Madhulika was born, the second of two daughters, in Haflong (Assam, India) to Andrew Verity Liddle and Muriel Liddle. The first twelve years of her life were spent in various parts of India, since her father was an officer in the Indian Police Service (IPS) and was transferred frequently from one town to another. In 1985, Mr.Liddle was transferred to New Delhi, and Madhulika finished her schooling in the city, where she went on to study at the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering and Nutrition (IHMCN) in New Delhi. Madhulika is married to Tarun Bhandari, a classmate from IHMCN.

Madhulika’s elder sister, Swapna Liddle, is an eminent historian whose PhD is on 19th century Delhi, and who has been conducting heritage walks in Delhi for more than a decade now, and she is the convenor of Delhi chapter of INTACH.[1] Their father, Mr. A.V.Liddle, after his retirement from the IPS, pursued his hobby of numismatics and is today concerned one of the world’s leading authorities on Mughal coins.


Madhulika worked from 1994 to 2008 in a series of organisations, in varied industries. Her first stint was as a Management Trainee and then an Assistant Manager in Food & Beverage Controls with Habitat World, at the then-newly established India Habitat Centre in Delhi. This was followed by three years with an advertising agency; two years with a travel portal; and finally, four years as an Instructional Designer at NIIT Limited. In early 2008, she resigned from NIIT in order to write full-time.


Madhulika had been writing since childhood, but her first work to be published was a short story named Silent Fear, which won the Femina Thriller Contest in June 2001. She has since written a wide variety of short stories, travel articles, humorous articles, and a novel, The Englishman’s Cameo. In addition, Madhulika maintains a blog on classic cinema.

The Muzaffar Jang Series[edit]

Madhulika’s best-known series of works are historical whodunnits featuring the 17th century Mughal detective, Muzaffar Jang. Muzaffar Jang first appeared in print in a short story, Murk of Art, in the anthology, 21 Under 40,[2] published by Zubaan Books in 2007. Liddle had already begun work on a full-length Muzaffar Jang novel, which was published by Hachette India in 2009 as The Englishman’s Cameo. Till now, four books in the series have been published:

  • The Englishman’s Cameo (2009)[3]
  • The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries[4](2011)
  • Engraved in Stone (2012)[5]
  • Crimson City (2015)[6]

The Englishman’s Cameo (2009)[edit]

The Englishman’s Cameo introduces Muzaffar Jang, a twenty-five-year-old Mughal nobleman living in the Delhi of 1656 AD. Muzaffar ends up investigating a murder of which his friend, a jeweller’s assistant, is accused. The book became a bestseller in India, and was published in French by Editions Philippe Picquier, as Le Camée Anglais.[7]

Both editions received numerous favourable reviews, with Pradeep Sebastian of Business World[8] writing: "Its intimate picture of life in Emperor Shahjahan’s Dilli resembles a delicate Mughal miniature…" and Zac O’Yeah of Deccan Herald[9] describing the book’s "originality and freshness" as its strongest point. Gargi Gupta, for the Hindustan Times,[10] wrote: "The Englishman’s Cameo is a fast-paced yarn written in snappy prose. It also succeeds in evoking the Mughal era through its manners, fashions, jewels and architecture. There’s blood, dead bodies every 50 pages or so, and even a love interest to keep readers hooked."

The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries (2011)[edit]

The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries is a collection of ten short mystery stories set in the latter half of 1656 AD, following Muzaffar Jang’s successful solving of the case of The Englishman’s Cameo. These stories are set against varying backdrops, including the Imperial Atelier, a traditional Mughal garden, the sarai built by the Princess Jahanara in Delhi, and the Royal Elephant Stables. Included in the collection was the first Muzaffar Jang short story (Murk of Art), reprinted in this collection as The Hand of an Artist.

Engraved in Stone (2012)[edit]

Engraved in Stone, the third book in the series, is set in Agra. When a wealthy and influential merchant named Mumtaz Hassan is murdered, the Diwan-e-Kul, Mir Jumla (who is in Agra, en route to the Deccan, where he's been sent on a campaign) assigns Muzaffar the task of finding the culprit. In the process, Muzaffar stumbles across another mystery which is as old as Muzaffar himself.

Crimson City (2015)[edit]

Crimson City, the fourth Muzaffar Jang book, is set in Delhi during early spring, 1657. While the Mughal armies besiege Bidar in the Deccan, Muzaffar comes up against a series of murders in his neighbourhood, as well as other unconnected crimes, including the abduction of a moneylender's infant son, and the death of a wealthy nobleman in the bath house he himself had built.[11]

Short stories[edit]

Madhulika calls herself "primarily a short story writer". Her first work to be published, in 2001, was a short story (a supernatural thriller called Silent Fear). Since then, she has written a range of short stories in different genres, including black humour, humour, crime and detection, and social awareness. Several of these have won awards (including the prestigious Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Awards Short Story Competition, for A Morning Swim, in 2003) or have been selected for anthologies. In 2016, one of her stories, Poppies in the Snow, was longlisted for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award, the world's richest prize for a single short story.[12]

Madhulika's first collection of contemporary short stories was published as My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories in 2012. The book is a set of twelve stories, all of which have a twist in the tale.

Miscellaneous Writings[edit]

Madhulika’s non-fiction writing includes travel writing, humour, and writing on classic cinema.

  • Travel writing: Madhulika first began travel writing as part of her job at a travel portal,, where she worked as an Assistant Editor for two years. During this period, she also became a member of the Rough Guides/IgoUgo travel community, writing travel reviews under the pseudonym phileasfogg. Since then, some of her travel writings – on destinations including Salzburg, Palampur, Pondicherry and Beijing – have been published in Indian newspapers such as Lounge (the weekend edition of Mint), Eye (the weekend edition of Indian Express), and National Geographic Traveller (India).
  • Humour: For several years, Madhulika wrote and recorded humorous articles for broadcast on All India Radio’s ‘In a Lighter Vein’ English-language programme. Most of these articles took a tongue-in-cheek look at contemporary India’s many foibles, fads and idiosyncrasies.
  • Classic cinema: Madhulika maintains a blog, primarily on classic cinema (though it also showcases some of her other writing) at The blog is devoted to reviews, reflections, ‘favourite lists’ and similar posts on cinema prior to the 1970s. Several essays of Madhulika's, focussing on classic Hindi cinema, have been published in anthologies, online literary journals, and newspapers.

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Short Story Competition – Honourable Mention (2002) for Love and the Papaya Man
  • Commonwealth Broadcasting Association Short Story Competition – Overall Winner (2003) for A Morning Swim
  • Winner of the Oxfordbookstore e-Author version 4.0[13] for a set of five short stories: Woman to Woman, The Mango Tree, The Tale of a Summer Vacation, The Marble Princess, and The Sari Satyagraha.
  • Longlisted for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award (2016) for Poppies in the Snow[14]


  1. ^ "17th century inn lies in ruin as Delhi govt, defence ministry squabble.", Hindustan Times, 23 Nov 2017.
  2. ^ 21 under 40 (2007). 21 under 40. Zubaan Books. ISBN 978-81-89884-03-1. Archived from the original on 28 March 2013. 
  3. ^ The Englishman’s Cameo (2009). The Englishman’s Cameo (2009). India: Hachette India. ISBN 978-81-906173-3-8. 
  4. ^ The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries (2011). The Eighth Guest & Other Muzaffar Jang Mysteries. India: Hachette India. ISBN 978-93-5009-275-0. 
  5. ^ Engraved in Stone (2012). Engraved in Stone (2012). India: Hachette India. ISBN 978-93-500944-8-8. 
  6. ^ Crimson City (2015). Crimson City (2015). India: Hachette India. ISBN 9789350097861. 
  7. ^ Le Camée Anglais (2009). Le Camée Anglais. France: Editions Philippe Picquier. ISBN 978-2-8097-0164-7. 
  8. ^ Pradeep Sebastian : Business world. "Pradeep Sebastian". Business world magazine. BusinessWorld Publishing. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Zac O’Yeah: Deccan Herald. "Zac O'Yeah". Deccan Herald. Deccan Herald. 
  10. ^ Gargi Gupta: Hindustan Times. "Gargi Gupta: Hindustan Times". Hindustan Times. HT Media Ltd. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Oxford Bookstore e author 4.0. "Oxford Bookstore e author 4.0". Oxford Bookstore e author 4.0. Oxford book store. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  14. ^

External links[edit]