Monday, May 9, 2011

Noor Inayat Khan: Royal Agent

Noor Inayat Khan
Courtesy of Shrabani Basu

Noor Inayat Khan, the daughter of an Indian-born father and an American mother, was born in Moscow, the capital city of Imperial Russia, on New Year's Day, 1914. It was fitting that Noor should have been born within steps of the Kremlin, a building that had been built for the royal tsars of Russia. Her great-great-great-grandfather was the royal Tipu Sultan, called the Tiger of Mysore, a Muslim ruler who had fought bravely for his lands and people.

Noor grew up in France, just a few miles from Paris, where she lived in a house called Fazal Manzil, or the House of Blessings. There she learned music, art and poetry. She also learned a great deal about Sufism, the religious and meditative philosophy that her father and his friends followed.

After graduating from the University of Sorbonne, Noor began to write and illustrate children's stories. She was planning to create an illustrated children's newspaper, which would be called "Bel Age" -- "The Beautiful Age" -- when Hitler's tanks rolled into Poland on September 1, 1939, and the whole world changed.

Excerpt from "Noor Inayat Khan: Royal Agent" from Women Heroes of World War II: 26 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Resistance, and Rescue.

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