We are greatly saddened by the passing of Iradj Bagherzade on 8th January 2023 in London.
Born in Vienna, Iradj studied for a degree in law at Oxford University, though he never practised as a lawyer. Instead, his monumental and impactful career in publishing began with Time-Life. After years in New York, Amsterdam, and London, he was the perfect choice to head the publishing house’s new venture in Tehran, where he met his future wife and Barakat Trust co-founder/trustee, Shahnaz. With the onset of the revolution in 1978, and the difficulties of running an Iranian-American publishing organization, Iradj and Shahnaz left Iran in 1980. After leaving Iran in 1980 due to the onset of the revolution and the problems of running an Iranian-American company, the two married in 1981 and settled in London.
Iradj managed to realise a lifelong goal of his, one that would prove to be incredibly valuable to the world: he established a publishing enterprise which made serious academic subjects accessible to wider audiences. In 1983, I.B. Tauris was born. Iradj often proudly noted that the initial single-room office was a film set for Hitchcock’s Frenzy, and that his desk stood like a monument where Barry Foster had strangled Anna Massey. I.B. Tauris, which soon blossomed into a major academic publishing house, was what Iradj described as “a university press without a university”. Its most extensive topic was international politics and history, and it soon became a leader on the Middle East and the Islamic world. Sold to Bloomsbury in 2018, it had a backlist of 4,200 titles which brought rigorous scholarship to new frontiers. The impact of Iradj’s work on public education cannot be overstated.
Publishing about 200 books a year, one notable release was the diary of Asadollah Alam, Iran’s onetime prime minister and court minister, which was translated from Persian and titled “The Shah and I: The Confidential Diary of Iran’s Royal Court, 1969-1977.” They offered a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the imperial court during the final decade of the Shah’s reign. Another major publication was “Taliban” by Ahmed Rashid, a definitive history of the group. Following the invasion and the Taliban’s defeat, the book became a global bestseller and is now a key reference book.
“Iradj was both a pillar and an ornament of the Iranian community in Britain and also far beyond these shores. His lasting monument to Iranian studies will be the many hundreds of books he published under the I.B.Tauris imprint. Cumulatively, they bear silent witness to the breadth and depth of his cultural sympathies, so lightly worn. His vision, his indefatigable energy, his dry humour and his endlessly engaging personality will be sorely missed”. Robert Hillenbrand, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Art, Universities of St. Andrews & Edinburgh
“Iradj Bagherzade had a hugely positive influence on my work during the three decades I knew him. With the books I published with I.B.Tauris, Iradj was always supportive, encouraging, and helpful with perceptive suggestions. At our last meeting, at a conference on Afghanistan in Cambridge last September, he was as encouraging as ever when I told him of my latest project. He will be sorely missed by a very large number of friends and professional associates”. Richard Tapper, Emeritus Professor, School of Oriental and African Studies
“Iradj was an extraordinary Iranian. I knew him as a very close friend for almost half a century. Our friendship started in Tehran and flourished even more in London when I.B. Tauris Publishers, founded by him in the early 1980s, became the chief channel for the publications of the Institute of Ismaili Studies, which I led until 8th January 2023, oddly the same time that Iradj so unforeseeably embarked on his eternal journey. I was always amazed by his depth of knowledge on so many subjects, as I was by his high standards of professionalism as a major publisher in the fields of Islamic and Iranian studies. I shall never forget our weekly walks in Regents Park during the recent pandemic years, when we exchanged our knowledge on English and Persian histories. The Iranian community in London has lost a distinguished member. I shall sorely miss him for the rest of my own days”. Farhad Daftary, Director Emeritus, Institute of Ismaili Studies
The Barakat Trust offers our condolences to the Bagherzade family, especially Iradj’s children and his wife Shahnaz.