Hidden Women : The Ruling Women of the Rana Dynasty
Mere shadows in the life of Jung Bahadur Kunwar Rana, the founder of the Rana dynasty that ruled Nepal for
104 years, Hidden Women are women about whom we know nothing, or very little. Not much is written about
these women in Jung Bahadur’s life except that against his wishes they committed sati when he was cremated.
Strong and independent, they enjoyed a prominent place in his life, and ironically the one he admired most, tried
to kill him. Narrated through the eyes of Jung Bahadur’s wet-nurse, the story is a sensitive depiction of women.
Thoroughly researched, Greta Rana builds together a feasible picture of how women lived and thought, hoped
and died in a restrictive feudal society of Nepal.
Greta Rana MBE (awarded Order of the British Empire in 2005) was born in Yorkshire, UK and moved to
Nepal with her husband Madhukar SJB Rana in 1971. She first ventured into literary fiction in the 1970s after
two short genre novels, Nothing Greener and Distant Hills – and a popular cliff-hanger written for a weekly
newspaper titled Against the Winds of Tomorrow. Her work in mountain areas was to provide the themes for
her novels as she observed a country left behind, finding transition difficult against the ethnic and cultural
divides and the suffering caused by the desperation of poverty in one of the harshest terrains on earth.
She has written seven novels and seven poetry collections; her last published novel was Hostage (2018). In
1991, her short story, ‘The Hill’ won The Arnsberger Internationale Kurzprosa. Greta Rana is also a founder
member of PEN Nepal and a former Chair of International PEN Women Writers’ Committee. Greta Rana has
been living in Nepal for about five decades – and on 31 December 2004, she retired from the International
Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) where she helped establish a publishing and outreach
division 24 years ago.
Greta Rana’s committed interest in children’s education, especially children whose families cannot afford to
send them to school, led to the founding of the ‘New Shakespeare Wallahs,’ an amateur drama group working
under the auspices of the Nepal-Britain Society to raise resources for children’s education amongst the poorest
communities. Brief periods of residence in Laos and Afghanistan in the late 1970s and early ’80s, besides her
time in Nepal, have given her a unique outlook on what the author refers to as ‘the colonisation by development
aid.’ Her upcoming novel ‘Ghosts in the Bamboo’ is broadly plotted around these locales.
She is a full-time writer and lives with her children in Jawalakhel, Lalitpur, Kathmandu.