Sultana’s Dream first appeared in 1905, ten years before the American feminist and novelist, Charlotte P. Gilman, published her feminist utopia Herland. Sultana’s Dream is an appealing story of reversed purdah – the seclusion of women – in Ladyland, where peace-loving women overpower aggressive men through the power of their brains.
Begum Rokheya Sakhawat Hossain, who lived during the last years of colonial rule in East Bengal, was a quiet and determined pioneer of Muslim feminist thought and writing, championing Muslim women’s rights to education and freedom. This was her first full-length work in English.
This edition of Sultana’s Dream is a fascinating dialogue across time and cultures: Durga Bai, a brilliant woman artist from the Gond tribe of central India, has drawn her response to this hundred-year old feminist fable. She delights in drawing women in a variety of situations.