Ralph Russell (1918–2008) has been widely recognized as the greatest western scholar of Urdu. Khushwant Singh described him as ‘the most revered name of interpreters of Ghalib’s life and works’. He headed the Urdu department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London for thirty years, and was a popular visiting scholar in India and Pakistan. His unusual skill as a translator and his insightful writing have opened up an appreciation of Urdu literature to a wide range of readers. His books include The Pursuit of Urdu Literature: A Select History (1992), Three Mughal Poets: Mir, Sauda, Mir Hasan (with Khurshidul Islam, 1991), The Oxford India Ghalib: Life, Letters and Ghazals (2003), among many others.