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Mulk Raj Anand


MULK RAJ ANAND 1905-2004:

Quoting Dominic Rai Artistic Director of Man Mela Theatre 'The event was a huge success for all concerned. The cast included Vincent Ebrahim (Dad in Kumars) Souad Faress (Usha in Archers) and Raj Ghatak (Sweetie in Bombay Dreams) Sarah Platt and Baluji Srivastav the musician all gave excellent performances.  A highlight for me was two 9 year olds from Bethnal Green reciting "for the Fallen" in English & Hindi.  There was a capacity audience with people standing.'

A large group of us went on to Masala Zone in Soho after the reception
at the Nehru Centre - where the celebrating continued. There will be
updates on Mulk event on our website.  (

Mulk Raj Anand was a follower of Gandhi and a passionate advocate of Indian independence. He visited Spain during the Civil War.

Based in London during the inter-war years, he became part of the Bloomsbury Group and worked at the BBC alongside George Orwell and TS Eliot. His work was championed by EM Forster.

Returning to India in 1947, his literary accomplishments gave him the status of a national treasure.

India’s Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said after Anand’s death that his ‘realistic and sympathetic’ portrayal of the lives of the poor would always be remembered.

Mulk Raj Anand is among the pioneers of the modern Indian Novel in English. His concern for the underprivileged and downtrodden is a pervasive theme in much of his writings. In many ways, his literary career is based both in India and in England, and is therefore, a bridge between both countries. His contribution to the preservation and promotion of Indian Art is equally significant and Marg, a magazine dedicated to revealing lesser known facets of the world of art, will remain a lasting testimony to this. His passing away signifies the ending of an era.

Young Mulk

Mulk Raj Anand (1905-2004)
Indian novelist, short-story writer, and art critic writing in English. Anand was among the first writers to render Punjabi and Hindustani idioms into English. In his work Anand has drawn a realistic and sympathetic portrait of the poor in India. Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao, and R.K. Narayan are frequently referred as the "founding fathers" of the Indian English novel.

--'In the ordinary way, Srijut Sharma would have endorsed his wife's sentiments. But today he felt that, on the face of it, his son's demand was justified. How should Hari know that the silver watch, the gold watch and a gold ring would be all the jewelry he, the father, would have for security against hard days if the gold watch was, as he prognosticated, only a token being offered by the firm to sugarcoat the bitter pill they would ask him to swallow - retirement five years before the appointed time! He hesitated, then lifted his head, smiled at his son and said:
--"Acha, Kaka, you can have my silver watch..."' (from 'The Gold Watch' in Literature of Asia, 1999)

Mulk Raj Anand was born in Peshawar as the son of a coppersmith and soldier. He attended Khalsa College, Amritsar, and entered the University of Punjab in 1921, graduating with honors in 1924. Thereafter Anand did his additional studies at Cambridge and at London University, receiving his Ph.D. in 1929. He studied - and later lectured - at League of Nations School of Intellectual Cooperation in Geneva. Anand also lectured, on and off between 1932 and 1945, at Workes Educational Association in London.

In the 1930s and 1940a Anand divided his time between literary London and Gandhi's India, joining the struggle for independence. He also fought with the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. During World War II he worked as a broadcaster and scriptwriter in the film division of the BBC in London.

After the war Anand returned permanently to India and made Bombay his home town and centre of activity. In 1946 he founded the fine-arts magazine Marg. He also become a Director of Kutub Publishers. From 1948 to 1966 Anand taught at Indian Universities. In the 1960s he was Tagore Professor of Literature and Fine Art at the University of Punjab and visiting professor at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Simla (1967-68). Between the years 1965 and 1970 Anand was Fine Art Chairman at Lalit Kala Akademi (National Academy of Arts). In 1970 he became President of Lokayata Trust, for creating a community and cultural centre in the village of Hauz Khas, New Delhi.

Anand started to write at an early age. He wrote his first prose in reaction to the trauma of the suicide of an aunt who had been excommunicated for dining with a Muslim woman. An unhappy love for a Muslim girl, who was married, inspired more poetry.

Anand began his career as a writer in England by publishing short notes on books in T.S. Eliot's magazine Criterion. Among his friends were such authors as E.M. Forster, Herbert Read, Henry Miller, and George Orwell. The most important influence upon Anand was Gandhi, who shaped his social conscience.

In the early 1930s Anand wrote books on art history, but it was not until the appearance of the novels Untouchable (1935) and Coolie (1936), the story of a fifteen year-old child-labourer who dies of tuberculosis, that Anand gained wide recognition. Untouchable narrates a day in the life of Bakha, who suffers a number of humiliations in the course of his day. Bakha is an unclean outcaste, fated by his low birth to work as a latrine sweeper. In the novel Anand presented a powerful critique of the Indian caste system and British colonial domination of India, which has actually increased the suffering of outcastes such as Bakha.

In Two Leaves and a Bud (1937) Anand continued his series of socially conscious novels, which shared much with the proletarian novels published in Britain and the United States during the 1930s. The story told about a poor Punjabi peasant who is brutally exploited in a tea plantation and killed by a British official who tries to rape his daughter.

Also Anand's famous trilogy, The Village (1939), Across the Black Waters (1940), and The Sword and the Sickle (1942) was a strong protest against social unjustices. The story follows the life of Lai Sing from adolescent rebellion through his experiences in World War I, to his return home and revolutionary activities. In Anand's early novels his social and political analysis of oppression grows clearly from his involvement with the Left in England. Among Anand's later and most impressive works is The Private Life of an Indian Prince (1953). The novel had its origins in the betrayal of a hill-woman with whom the author was romantically involved while married to his first wife, the actress Kathleen van Gelder. Anand focused this time more on human psyche and personal struggles than on political attack.

Since the 1950s, Anand has intermittently worked on a projected seven-volume autobiography, entitled Seven Ages of Man. From the project have appeared Seven Summers (1951), Morning Face (1968), Confessions of a Lover (1976), and The Bubble (1984). Anand has also published books on subjects as diverse as Marx and Engels in India, Tagore, Nehru, Aesop's fables, the Kama Sutra, erotic sculpture, and Indian ivories.

For further reading: Mulk Raj Anand: A Revaluation by P. Rajan (1994); Studies in Indian and Anglo-Indian Fiction by Saros Cowasjee (1993); The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand, ed. by R.K. Dhawan (1992); The Wisdom of the Heart by M. Fisher (1985); Mulk Raj Anand by by G. Packham (1979); The Yoke of Pity by A. Niven (1978); So Many Freedoms by S. Cowasjee (1977); Coolie: An Assessment by S. Cowasjee (1976); Mulk Raj Anand by M. Berry (1971); Mulk Raj Anand by M.KL. Naik (1968); The Elephant and the Lotus by J. Lindsay (1965) - See also: World Hello Day Letters; Indian Literature

Selected works:

* Persian Painting, 1930
* Curries and Other Indian Dishes, 1932
* The Hindu View of Art, 1933
* The Golden Breath, 1933
* The Lost Child and Other Stories, 1934
* Untouchable, 1935
* Coolie, 1936
* Two Leaves and a Bud, 1937
* Lament on the Death of a Master of the Arts, 1938
* Marx and Engels on India, 1939
* The Village, 1939
* Across the Black Waters, 1940
* Letters on India, 1942
* The Sword and the Sickle, 1942
* India Speaks, 1943 (play)
* The Barber's Trade Union, and Other Stories, 1944
* The Big Heart, 1945
* Apology for Heroism, 1946
* Homageto Tagore, 1946
* Indian Fairy Tales, 1946 (retold by M.R.A.)
* The Tractor and the Corn Goddess, and Other Stories, 1947
* The Bride's Book of Beauty, 1947 (with K. Hutheesing)
* On Education, 1947
* Indian Short Stories, 1947 (ed., with I. Singh)
* The King-Emperor's English, 1948
* The Story of India, 1948
* Letters Written to Indian Air, 1949
* The Indian Theatre, 1950
* Seven Sumers, 1951
* The Story of Man, 1952
* The Private Life of an Indian Prince, 1953 (rev.ed. 1970)
* Reflections on the Golden Bd and Other Stories, 1954
* Selected Stories, 1954
* The Story of Man, 1954
* The Dancing Foot, 1957
* The Hindu View of Art, 1957
* India in Colour, 1958
* Kama Kala, 1958
* The Power of Darkness, and Other Stories, 1959
* Aesop's Fables, 1960 (retold by M.R.A.)
* The Old Woman and the Cow, 1960 (as Gauri, 1976)
* Homage to Khajuraho, 1960
* The Road, 1961
* More Indian Fairy Tales, 1961 (retold by M.R.A.)
* Homage to Khajuraho, 1962
* Is There a Contemporary Indian Civilization?, 1963
* Death of a Hero, 1963
* The Third Eye, 1963
* The Story of Chacha Nehru, 1965
* Bombay, 1965
* Lajwanti and Other Stories, 1966
* The Volcano, 1967
* The Humanism of M.K. Gandhi, 1967
* Morning Face, 1968
* Annals of Childhood, 1968 (ed.)
* Contemporary World Sculpture, 1968 (ed.)
* Experiments, 1968 (ed.)
* Grassroots, 1968 (ed.)
* Delhi, Agra, Sikri, 1968
* Konorak, 1968 (with others)
* Indian Ivories, 1970
* Ajanta, 1970
* Roots and Flowers, 1972
* Author to Critic: The Letters of Mulk Raj Anand to Saros Cowasjee, 1973
* Between Tears and Laughter, 1973
* Album of Indian Paintings, 1973
* Folk Tales of Punjab, 1974 (ed.)
* Apology for Heroism: a Brief Autobiography of Ideas, 1975
* Roots and Flowers, 1975
* Confessions of a Lover, 1976
* Homage to Amritsar, 1977 (ed.)
* Homage to Jaipur, 1977 (ed.)
* Selected Short Stories, 1977
* Alampur, 1978 (ed.)
* Seven Little Known Birds of the Inner Eye, 1978
* Tales from Tolstoy, 1978 (ed.)
* Tantra Magic, 1978 (with A. Mookerjee)
* The Humanism of Jawaharlal Nehru, 1978
* Only Connect: Letters to Indian Friends - E.M. Forster, a Profile, 1979
* Homage to Kalamkari, 1979 (ed.)
* The Humanism of Rabindranath Tagore, 1979
* Golden Goa, 1980 (ed.)
* Splendours of Tamil Nadu, 1980 (ed.)
* Splendours of the Vijayanagara, 1980 (ed.)
* Maya of Mohenjo-Daro, 1980
* Conversations in Bloomsbury, 1981
* Maharaga Ranit Singh as Patron of the Arts, 1981 (ed.)
* Treausres of Everyday Art, 1981 (ed.)
* Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana, 1982 (ed. with L. Dane)
* Ellora, 1984
* Madhubani Painting, 1984
* The Bibble, 1984
* Pilpali Sahib: the Story of a Childhood under the Raj, 1985
* Poet-Paintwer: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, 1985
* Panorama, 1986 (ed. with S.B. Rao)
* Ajanta, 1988
* Three Eminent Personalities on the Ram Janambhoomi, 1989
* Amrita Sher-Gil, 1989
* Pilpali Sahib: The Story of a Big Ego in a Small Boy, 1990
* Old Myth and New Myth: Letters from Mulk Raj Anand to K.V.S. Murti Anand, 1991
* Little Plays of Mahatma Gandhi, 1991
* Caliban and Gandhi: Letters to 'Bapu* from Bombay, 1991