Munshi Premchand Biography

(Novelist and Author)

Birthday: July 31, 1880 (Leo)

Born In: Lamhi, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

Munshi Premchand was an Indian writer counted amongst the greatest Hindustani writers of the early 20th century. He was a novelist, short story writer, and dramatist who penned over a dozen novels, hundreds of short stories, and numerous essays. He also translated a number of literary works of other languages into Hindi. A teacher by profession, he began his literary career as a freelancer in Urdu. He was an independent minded patriotic soul and his initial literary works in Urdu were replete with descriptions of the Indian nationalist movement that was building up in various parts of India. Soon he switched over to Hindi and established himself as a much loved author with his poignant short stories and novels that not only entertained the readers, but also carried significant social messages. He was much moved by the inhumane manner in which Indian women of his time were treated, and often depicted the miserable plight of girls and women in his stories hoping to create awareness in the minds of his readers. A true patriot, he quit his government job as a part of the non-cooperation movement called by Mahatma Gandhi even though he had a growing family to feed. He was eventually elected as the first President of the Progressive Writers' Association in Lucknow.

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Quick Facts

Indian Celebrities Born In July

Also Known As: Premchand, Dhanpat Rai Srivastav

Died At Age: 56

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Shivarani Devi (m. 1895)

father: Ajaib Lal

mother: Anand Devi

siblings: Suggi

children: Amrit Rai, Kamala Devi, Sripath Rai

Born Country: India

Novelists Short Story Writers

Died on: October 8, 1936

place of death: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India

More Facts

education: madarsa

  • 1

    What are some major themes in Munshi Premchand's works?

    Some major themes in Munshi Premchand's works include social issues, poverty, the caste system, the exploitation of the underprivileged, and the struggle for justice and equality.

  • 2

    Which are some of the most famous novels written by Munshi Premchand?

    Some of the most famous novels written by Munshi Premchand include "Gaban," "Nirmala," "Idgah," and "Godaan."

  • 3

    How did Munshi Premchand contribute to Indian literature?

    Munshi Premchand made significant contributions to Indian literature by portraying the social issues and realities of his time through his writings, which had a profound impact on the readers and inspired social change.

  • 4

    What was Munshi Premchand's writing style known for?

    Munshi Premchand's writing style was known for its simplicity, realism, and deep insight into the lives of ordinary people. He used everyday language to depict the struggles and aspirations of common folks.

  • 5

    How did Munshi Premchand's works impact Indian society?

    Munshi Premchand's works had a profound impact on Indian society by shedding light on social injustices, inequality, and the plight of the marginalized sections of society. His writings inspired empathy and a call for social reform.

Childhood & Early Life
Premchand was born as Dhanpat Rai Srivastav on 31 July 1880 in Lamhi, a village near Varanasi, in British India. His parents were Ajaib Rai, a post office clerk, and Anandi Devi, a homemaker. He was their fourth child.
He received his early education at a madrasa in Lalpur where he learned Urdu and Persian. He learned English at a missionary school later on.
His mother died when he was just eight years old and his father soon remarried. But he did not enjoy good relations with his step-mother, and felt very isolated and sad as a child. He sought solace in books and became an avid reader.
His father too died in 1897 and he had to discontinue his studies.
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Career
After struggling for a few years as a tuition teacher, Premchand was offered the post of an assistant teacher at the Government District School in Bahraich in 1900. At around this time he also started writing fiction.
Initially he adopted the pseudonym “Nawab Rai”, and wrote his first short novel, ‘Asrar e Ma'abid’ which explores corruption among temple priests and their sexual exploitation of poor women. The novel was published in a series in the Benares-based Urdu weekly ‘Awaz-e-Khalk’ from October 1903 to February 1905.
He shifted to Kanpur in 1905 and met Daya Narain Nigam, the editor of the magazine ‘Zamana’. He would write several articles and stories for the magazine in the coming years.
A patriot, he wrote many stories in Urdu encouraging the general public to participate in India’s struggle for freedom from British colonial rule. These stories were published in his first short story collection, titled ‘Soz-e-Watan’ in 1907. The collection came to the notice of the British officials who banned it. This also forced Dhanpat Rai to change his pen name from “Nawab Rai” to “Premchand” in order to escape persecution at the hands of the British.
By the mid-1910s he had become a prominent writer in Urdu and then he started writing in Hindi in 1914.
Premchand became the Assistant Master at the Normal High School, Gorakhpur, in 1916. He continued writing short stories and novellas, and published his first major Hindi novel ‘Seva Sadan’ in 1919. It was well received by the critics, and helped him gain wider recognition.
In 1921, he attended a meeting where Mahatma Gandhi urged people to resign from their government jobs as part of the non-cooperation movement. By this time Premchand was married with children, and had been promoted to Deputy Inspector of Schools. Yet he decided to quit his job in support of the movement.
After leaving his job he moved to Benares (Varanasi) and focused on his literary career. He established a printing press and publishing house called Saraswati Press in 1923, and published the novels ‘Nirmala’ (1925) and ‘Pratigya’ (1927). Both the novels dealt with women-centric social issues like dowry system and widow remarriage.
He launched a literary-political weekly magazine titled ‘Hans’ in 1930. The magazine aimed at inspiring Indians in their struggle for independence and was known for its politically provocative views. It failed to make a profit, forcing Premchand to look for a more stable job.
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He became a teacher in the Marwari College, Kanpur, in 1931. This job, however, did not last long and he had to leave because of differences with the college administration. He returned to Benares and became the editor of the ‘Maryada’ magazine and also briefly served as the headmaster of the Kashi Vidyapeeth.
Desperately seeking to revive his declining financial situation, he went to Mumbai in 1934 and accepted a script writing job for the production house Ajanta Cinetone. He wrote the script for the film ‘Mazdoor’ ("The Labourer") in which he also made a cameo appearance. The film, which depicted the miserable conditions of the labor class, incited the workers in many establishments to stand up against the owners and was thus banned.
The commercial environment of the Mumbai film industry did not suit him and he yearned to leave the place. The founder of Mumbai Talkies tried his best to convince him to stay, but Premchand had made up his mind.
He left Mumbai in April 1935 and moved to Benares where he published the short story ‘Kafan’ (1936) and the novel ‘Godaan’ (1936) which were among the last works he completed.
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Major Works
His novel, ‘Godaan’, is considered one of the greatest Hindustani novels of modern Indian literature. The novel explores several themes such as caste segregation in India, exploitation of the lower classes, exploitation of women, and the problems posed by industrialization. The book was later translated into English and also made into a Hindi film in 1963.
Awards & Achievements
In 1936, a few months before his death, he was elected as the first President of the Progressive Writers' Association in Lucknow.
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Personal Life & Legacy
He was married to a girl selected by his grandfather in 1895. He was just 15 years old at that time and was still studying in school. He did not get along with his wife who he found to be quarrelsome. The marriage was very unhappy and his wife left him and went back to her father. Premchand made no attempts to bring her back.
He married a child widow, Shivarani Devi, in 1906. This step was considered revolutionary at time, and Premchand had to face a lot of opposition. This marriage proved to be a loving one and produced three children.
He suffered from ill health during his last days and died on 8 October 1936.
The Sahitya Akademi, India's National Academy of Letters, established the Premchand Fellowships in his honor in 2005. It is given to persons of eminence in the field of culture from SAARC countries.
Facts About Munshi Premchand

Premchand's first story, "Duniya ka Sabse Anmol Ratan," was published in Zamana in 1907.

He was a firm believer in the power of education and self-improvement, and often encouraged others to pursue their passions and dreams.

Premchand was known for his simple and unassuming lifestyle, preferring to spend his time reading and writing rather than engaging in extravagant activities.

In addition to his literary pursuits, Premchand was also actively involved in social and political causes, advocating for the rights of the marginalized and oppressed in society.

See the events in life of Munshi Premchand in Chronological Order

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