Lesser Known Facts About Mulk Raj Anand

Mulk Raj Anand is a major name among Indian English writers. Anand is known for his realistic and sympathetic portrayal of the poor in India. He is considered a founder of the English-language Indian novel. Born in Peshawar (presently in Pakistan) in 1905, he was one of the first Indian writers in the English language to make a mark on the international scenario. Here are a few facts about him that you probably did not know.

  • The son of a coppersmith, Anand graduated with honors in 1924 from Punjab University in Lahore. He then pursued additional studies at the University of Cambridge and at University College in London.

  • After completing his Ph.D. in 1929, he studied and lectured at the League of Nations School of Intellectual Cooperation in Geneva.

  • Mulk Raj started his literary career due to a family tragedy. His first essay was in response to his aunt’s suicide, who was excommunicated by his family for sharing a meal with a Muslim.

  •  His first novel, “Untouchable” published in 1935 was an account of the day-to-day life of an “untouchable.”

  • Once, in Virginia Woolf’s drawing-room, Anand was mocked by a young critic Edward Sackville-West for trying to write a novel about a lower-caste protagonist.

  • Anand presented Gandhi with the first draft of the book. After going through it, Gandhi said that the language used in the book needs to be simple. Anand rewrote the entire novel in the Sabarmati ashram and Gandhi approved its final draft.

  • 19 publishers rejected the manuscript, before a small company — Lawrence and Wishart — published it in 1935.

  • Anand joined the International Brigade in the Spanish civil war in 1937. As a socialist, he wrote numerous articles and essays on Marxism, Fascism, Indian independence, and other political issues.

  • He met actress Kathleen van Gelder in London and the couple married in 1938. Their union produced a daughter. The marriage however unraveled and the couple divorced in 1948.

  • Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, he divided his time between London and India. At both places he was involved in politics—he was associated with the British Labour Party as well as the Indian National Congress.

  • He was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award in 1967 for his vast contributions towards the field of Literature & Education.

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