The IIS community is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our dear friend and long-time publishing partner Iradj Bagherzade.
Iradj was founder and chair of I.B. Tauris (IBT), a renowned publishing house and the main publishing partner for IIS books. Chairman for 35 years, Iradj shaped IBT to become a major academic and trade publisher and a leader in the fields of Middle East and Islamic studies in particular.
Iradj was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1942, and schooled in England, going on to receive a degree in law from the University of Oxford. He began his publishing career at Time Life Books, which saw him take up positions in New York, Amsterdam and London. In 1975 he moved to Tehran to establish a local publishing imprint, but the Iranian Revolution forced its closure and prompted his move back to London.
In 1983 he founded I.B. Tauris, which soon established a reputation for outstanding quality in Middle East and Islamic studies, as well as international politics and history. With a backlist of 4,200 titles, it was acquired by Bloomsbury in 2018, and this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Iradj was also integral to the success of the burgeoning publishing programme of the IIS in the 1990s, supporting Farhad Daftary who was leading its Department of Academic Research and Publications. The first book in the Institute’s Ismaili Heritage Series, Abu Ya’qub al-Sijistani: Intellectual Missionary by Paul Walker, was published in 1996, inaugurating the IBT—IIS publishing partnership, which has thrived and continues today.
Publishing meetings at the old IBT offices on Salem Road were an anticipated event in the calendar; Iradj was always most hospitable, but best of all was the sparkling banter. I.B. Tauris remains the main publishing partner of the IIS, and together we have published scores of books, furthering our shared vision of promoting a better understanding of the Islamic world and of Shi‘i Islam especially.
Dr Daftary, IIS Director Emeritus, said: “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.”