Anand, Mulk Raj 1905–2004

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Anand, Mulk Raj 1905–2004

PERSONAL: Born December 12, 1905, in Peshawar, India; died of pneumonia September 28, 2004, in Pune, India; son of Lal Chand (a coppersmith and soldier) and Ishwar (Kaur) Anand; married Kathleen Van Gelder (an actress), 1939 (divorced, 1948); married Shirin Vajifdar (a classical dancer), 1949; children: one daughter. Education: University of Punjab, B.A. (with honors), 1924; University College, London, Ph.D., 1929; additional study at Cambridge University, 1929–30.

CAREER: Novelist, essayist, and lecturer. Helped found the Progressive Writer's Movement in India, 1938; lecturer in literature and philosophy at London County Council Adult Education Schools, and broadcaster and scriptwriter in films division for British Broadcasting Corp., 1939–45; lecturer at various Indian universities, 1948–63; Tagore Professor of Fine Arts at University of Punjab, 1963–66; visiting professor at Institute of Advanced Studies in Simla, 1967–68; president of Lokayata Trust (an organization developing community and cultural centers in India), beginning 1970. Editor, MARG (Indian art quarterly), Bombay, India, beginning 1946. Military service: Fought with Republicans in Spanish Civil War, 1937–38.

MEMBER: Indian National Academy of Letters (fellow), Indian National Academy of Art (fellow), Indian National Council of Arts, Sahitya Academy (fellow), Lalit Kala Academy (fellow).

AWARDS, HONORS: Leverhulme fellow, 1940–42; International Peace Prize, World Council of Peace, 1952, for promoting understanding among nations; Padma Bhusan Award from the President of India, 1968; honorary doctorates from Indian universities in Delhi, Benares, Andhra, Patiala, and Shantiniketan.


Persian Painting, Faber (London), 1930.

Curries and Other Indian Dishes, Harmsworth (London), 1932.

The Golden Breath: Studies in Five Poets of the New India, Dutton (New York, NY), 1933.

The Hindu View of Art, Allen &Unwin (London), 1933, 2nd edition published as The Hindu View of Art with an Introductory Essay on Art and Reality by Eric Gill, Asia Publishing House, 1957, 3rd edition, Arnold Publishers (New Delhi), 1988.

Apology for Heroism: A Brief Autobiography of Ideas, Drummond (London), 1934, published as Apology for Heroism: An Essay in Search of Faith, Drummond, 1946.

Letters on India, Routledge (London), 1942.

India Speaks (play), first produced in London at the Unity Theatre, 1943.

Homage to Tagore, Sangam (Lahore, India), 1946.

(With Krishna Hutheesing) The Bride's Book of Beauty, Kutub-Popular (Bombay), 1947, published as The Book of Indian Beauty, Tuttle (Rutland, VT), 1981.

On Education, Hind Kitabs (Bombay), 1947.

The Story of India (juvenile history), Kutub-Popular, 1948.

The King-Emperor's English; or, The Role of the English Language in Free India, Hind Kitabs (Bombay), 1948.

Lines Written to an Indian Air: Essays, Nalanda (Bombay), 1949.

The Indian Theatre, illustrated by Usha Rani, Dobson (London), 1950, Roy (New York, NY), 1951.

The Story of Man (juvenile natural history), Sikh (New Delhi), 1954.

The Dancing Foot, Publications Division, Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (New Delhi), 1957.

Kama Kala: Some Notes on the Philosophical Basis of Hindu Erotic Sculpture, Skilton (London), 1958, Lyle Stuart (New York, NY), 1962.

(Author of introduction and text) India in Color, McGraw (New York City), 1958.

(With Stella Kramrisch) Homage to Khajuraho, MARG Publications (Bombay), 1960, 2nd edition, 1962.

More Indian Fairy Tales, Kutub, 1961.

Is There a Contemporary Indian Civilisation?, Asia Publishing House (Bombay), 1963.

The Third Eye: A Lecture on the Appreciation of Art, edited by Diwan Chand Sharma, University of Punjab (Patiala), 1963.

(With Hebbar) The Singing Line, Western Printers &Publishers, 1964.

(With others) Inde, Napal, Ceylan (French guidebook), Editions Vilo (Paris), 1965.

The Story of Chacha Nehru (juvenile), Rajpal, 1965.

Bombay, MARG Publications, 1965.

Design for Living, MARG Publications, 1967.

The Volcano: Some Comments on the Development of Rabindranath Tagore's Aesthetic Theories and Art Practice, Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, 1967.

The Humanism of M.K. Gandhi, Three Lectures, University of Punjab, 1967.

(With others) Konorak, MARG Publications, 1968.

Indian Ivories, MARG Publications, 1970.

(Author of text) Ajanta, photographs by R.R. Bhurdwaj, MARG Publications/ McGraw, 1971.

Roots and Flowers: Two Lectures on the Metamorphosis of Technique and Content in the Indian-English Novel, Karnatak University (Dharwar), 1972.

Mora, National Book Trust (New Delhi), 1972.

Album of Indian Paintings, National Book Trust, 1973.

Author to Critic: The Letters of Mulk Raj Anand, edited by Saros Cowasjee, Writers Workshop (Calcutta), 1973.

Folk Tales of Punjab, Sterling (New Delhi), 1974.

Lepakshi, MARG Publications, c. 1977.

(With others) Persian Painting, Fifteenth Century, Arnold-Heinemann/MARG Publications (India), 1977.

Seven Little-Known Birds of the Inner Eye, Tuttle, 1978.

The Humanism of Jawaharlal Nehru, Visva-Bharati (Calcutta), 1978.

The Humanism of Rabindranath Tagore, Marathwada University (Aurangabad, India), 1979.

Album of Indian Paintings, Auromere, 1979.

Maya of Mohenjo-Daro (juvenile), 3rd edition, Auromere, 1980.

Conversations in Bloomsbury (reminiscences), Wild-wood House (London), 1981.

Madhubani Painting, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, 1984, Oxford University Press (Oxford), 1995.

Ghandhian Thought and Indo-Anglican Novelists, Chanakya Publications (India), 1984.

Poet-Painter: Paintings by Rabindranath Tagore, Abhinav Publications (New Delhi), 1985.

Pilpali Sahab: The Story of a Childhood under the Raj (autobiography), Arnold-Heinemann, 1985.

Homage to Jamnalal Bajaj: A Pictorial Biography, Allied (Ahmedabad), 1988.

Amrita Sher Gill, National Gallery of Modern Art (New Delhi), 1989.

Pilpali Sahab: The Story of a Big Ego in a Small Body, Arnold Publishers, 1990.

Caliban and Gandhi: Letters to "Bapu" from Bombay, (correspondence), Arnold Publishers, 1991.

Indian Folk Tales, Publications Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, 1991.

Kama Yoga: Some Notes on the Philosophical Basis of "Erotic" Art of India, Arnold Publishers, 1991.

Little Plays of Mahatma Gandhi, Arnold Publishers, 1991.

Old Myth and New Myth: Letters from Mulk Raj Anand to K.V.S. Murti, (correspondence), Writers Workshop, 1991.

Shahid, Urdu Akadmi, 1995.

Tales Told By an Idiot: Selected Short Stories, Jaico Publishing House, 1999.

English Writer Mulk Raj Anand Reads from His Fiction, (sound recording made on December 20, 2000), Archive of World Literature on Tape, 2000.

Also author of Kama Yoga, Aspect (Edinburgh), and Chitralakshana, National Book Trust.


Untouchable, preface by E.M. Forster, Wishart (London), 1935, revised edition, Bodley Head (London), 1970.

The Coolie, Lawrence & Wishart, 1936, published as Coolie, Penguin (London), 1945, Liberty Press (New York, NY), 1952, new revised edition, Bodley Head, 1972.

Two Leaves and a Bud, Lawrence &Wishart, 1937, Liberty Press, 1954.

Lament on the Death of a Master of Arts, Naya Sansar (Lucknow, India), 1938.

The Village, J. Cape (London), 1939.

Across the Black Waters, J. Cape, 1940.

The Sword and the Sickle, J. Cape, 1942.

The Big Heart, Hutchinson, 1945, revised edition, Arnold-Heinemann (New Delhi), 1980.

Private Life of an Indian Prince, Hutchinson, 1953, revised edition, Bodley Head, 1970.

The Old Woman and the Cow, Kutub-Popular, 1960, published as Gauri, Arnold-Heinemann, 1987.

The Road, Kutub, 1961, Oriental University Press (London), 1987.

Death of a Hero: Epitaph for Maqbool Sherwani, Kutub-Popular, 1963, Arnold-Heinemann, 1988.


Seven Summers: The Story of an Indian Childhood, Hutchinson, 1951.

Morning Face, Kutub-Popular, 1968.

Confession of a Lover, Arnold-Heinemann, 1984.

The Bubble, Arnold-Heinemann, 1984.


The Lost Child and Other Stories (also see below), J.A. Allen (London), 1934.

The Barber's Trade Union and Other Stories (includes the stories from The Lost Child and Other Stories), J. Cape, 1944.

Indian Fairy Tales: Retold, Kutub-Popular, 1946, 2nd edition, 1966.

The Tractor and the Corn Goddess and Other Stories, Thacker (Bombay), 1947, reprinted, Arnold-Heinemann, 1987.

Reflections on the Golden Bed and Other Stories, Current Book House (Bombay), 1954, reprinted, Arnold Publishers, 1984.

The Power of Darkness and Other Stories, Jaico (Bombay), 1959.

More Indian Fairy Tales, Kutub-Popular, 1961.

Lajwanti and Other Stories, Sterling, 1973.

Between Tears and Laughter, Sterling, 1973.

Selected Short Stories of Mulk Raj Anand, edited by M.K. Naik, Arnold-Heinemann, 1977.


Marx and Engels on India, Socialist Book Club (Allahabad, India), 1933.

(With Iqbal Singh) Indian Short Stories, New India (London), 1946.

Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, Introduction to Indian Art, Theosophical Publishing, 1956.

Annals of Childhood, Kranchalson (Agra, India), 1968.

Experiments: Contemporary Indian Short Stories, Kranchalson, 1968.

Grassroots (short stories), Kranchalson, 1968.

Contemporary World Sculpture, MARG Publications, 1968.

Homage to Jaipur, MARG Publications, 1977.

Homage to Amritsar, MARG Publications, 1977.

Tales from Tolstoy, Arnold-Heinemann, 1978.

Alampur, MARG Publications, 1978.

Homage to Kalamkari, MARG Publications, 1979.

Splendours of Kerala, MARG Publications, 1980.

Golden Goa, MARG Publications, 1980.

Splendours of the Vijayanagara, MARG Publications, 1980.

Treasures of Everyday Art, MARG Publications, 1981.

Maharaja Ranjit Singh as Patron of the Arts, MARG Publications, 1981, Humanities (New York, NY), 1982.

(With Lance Dane) Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana (from a translation by Richard Burton and F.F. Arbuthnot), Humanities, 1982.

(With S. Balu Rao) Panorama: An Anthology of Modern Indian Short Stories, Sterling (New Delhi), 1986.

Chacha Nehru, Sterling, 1987.

Aesop's Fables, Sterling, 1987.

(And author of background essay) The Historic Trial of Mahatma Gandhi, National Council of Educational Research and Training (New Delhi), 1987.

The Other Side of the Medal, Sterling, 1989.

Sati: A Writeup of Raja Ram Mohan Roy about Burning of Widows Alive, B.R. Publishing (New Delhi), 1989.

Annihilation of Caste: An Undelivered Speech, by B.R. Ambedkar, Arnold Publishers, 1990.

(With Eleanor Zelliot) An Anthology of Dalit Literature: Poems, Gyan Publishing House, 1992.

Splendours of Himachal Heritage, Abhinav Publications (New Delhi), 1997.


(Contributor) Bharata Natyam, by Sunil Kothari, Marg Publications, 1997.

Editor of numerous magazines and journals, beginning 1930.

SIDELIGHTS: Mulk Raj Anand is considered by many critics to be one of India's best writers. Along with R.K. Narayan and Raja Rao, he has established the basic forms and themes of Indian literature that is written in English. Through his socially conscious novels and short stories, Anand attacks religious bigotry, established institutions, and the Indian state of affairs. At the same time, he has greatly enriched his country's literary heritage. In World Literature Today, Shyam M. Asani comments that "Anand writes about Indians much as Chekhov writes about Russians, or Sean O'Faolain or Frank O'Connor about the Irish."

Anand's first novel, Untouchable, is based on an incident in his own life. Injured by a stone, the young Anand was carried home by the lower-caste Bakha, who was abused by Anand's mother for "polluting" her son. Untouchable conveys all of these facts along with an understanding of the dual nature of the untouchables' mindset, for while the untouchable Bakha is reviled by all Hindus because he cleans latrines, he still has pride. As Shyamala A. Narayan notes in Contemporary Novelists, "The distinction of Anand's writings lies in capturing Bakha's work ethic—Bakha tackles his odious job with a conscientiousness that invests his movements with beauty."

Saros Cowasjee of Journal of Commonwealth Literature applauds Untouchable on many levels. "The novel is not only a powerful social tract but also a remarkable technical feat," Coswasjee writes. "The action takes place within the compass of a single day, but the author manages to build round his hero Bakha … a spiritual crisis of such breadth that it seems to embrace the whole of India." Untouchable was indeed a revelation to readers who remained unaware of life in a caste society, and sparked critical debate and commentary. But the novel also functions emotionally; E.M. Forster, who wrote the preface to the novel, notes: "It has gone straight to the heart of its subject and purified it."

Anand continued to explore his interest in social themes with his next few novels, which relate the hardships of working-class Indians. Coolie centers around Munoo, an orphan boy who dies of tuberculosis brought on by malnutrition. Munoo is not an untouchable but he is just as much a victim of the unfairness of Indian society as he finds himself at the mercy of his various employers. Ronald Dewsbury of Life and Letters Today even maintains that in Coolie, "Anand does show that under the present system India is at its worst." Cowasjee also finds that "Munoo is a most attractive character, with his warm-heartedness, his love, and comradeship, his irrepressible curiosity and zest for life." These attributes again demonstrate Anand's ability to bring out the positive human characteristics in people whom mainstream Indian society would rather ignore.

Anand also explores the lives of poor Indians in The Village, the first volume of a trilogy about a young Sikh named Lal Singh. The Village, writes Kate O'Brien in the Spectator, "gives a vivid picture of a life that is poor and terrible, but in many aspects extremely dignified … its theme is universal." Anand writes about women, also underprivileged members of Indian society, in The Old Woman and the Cow, and about exploited coppersmiths whose existence is threatened by mechanization in The Big Heart. Anand's novels show increasing development over the years. Krishan Nanda Shinha, in his Mulk Raj Anand, comments that "while the earlier novels show a sense of horror and disgust against social and economic ills, the novels of the middle period show a greater concern for and with the human heart. It is, however, in the later novels that a healthy synthesis of the social and personal concerns is achieved…. While the later novels retain the passion for social justice, they sound greater emotional depths."

In Private Life of an Indian Prince, Anand demonstrates this synthesis, producing a piece of fiction, based on his own experience with lost love, that convincingly explores the psychological workings of its hero. This novel concerns the destruction of a young prince who, shortly after India achieves independence in the 1940s, holds out against a union with the rulers of three other princely states. He is encouraged to make this choice by his mistress, an illiterate peasant woman, and ends by losing the mistress, the state, and his sanity. In this novel, Anand skillfully balances the demands of drawing a realistic portrayal of the prince and maintaining characters and situations that remain true to the historical backdrop. Cowasjee calls Private Life of an Indian Prince "a great historical novel that is at the same time a work of art," comparing it to "a Dostoevskian novel on the grand scale."

In addition to these novels, Anand has intermittently worked on a proposed seven-volume series of autobiographical novels known as the "Seven Ages of Man." Anand has completed four volumes thus far, and his depiction of childhood in Seven Summers and Morning Face have earned him comparisons to Tolstoy. Anand plans to finish this series, but despite what the future brings for his work, as Cowasjee writes, "his reputation is secure." Not only has Anand successfully "dispelled] the myth built around the Indian character: the myth about 'contentment' in the midst of poverty," the value of his novels, according to Margaret Berry in her Mulk Raj Anand: The Man and the Novelist, "is the witness they offer of India's agonizing attempt to break out of massive stagnation and create a society in which men and women are free and equal."

Anand once told CA: "I believe in the only ism possible in our age—humanism. I feel that man can grow into the highest consciousness from insights into the nature of human experience derived through creative art and literature. The piling up of these insights may make a man survive at some level of the quality of life, in our tragic age. I believe in co-existence among human beings and co-discovery of cultures. I believe the world must end the arms race and get five percent disarmament to give resources for building basic plenty throughout the world by the year 2000.I believe, though man has fallen very low at various times in history, he is not so bad that he will not survive on this planet—as long as the earth does not grow cold. I always dream the earth is not flat, but round."



Amirthanayagam, Guy, editor, Asian and Western Writers in Dialogue: New Cultural Identities, Macmillan, 1982, pp. 142-158.

Berry, Margaret, Mulk Raj Anand: The Man and the Novelist, Oriental Press, 1971.

Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit), Volume 23, 1983, Volume 93, 1996.

Contemporary Novelists, St. James (Detroit), sixth edition, 1996.

Cowasjee, Saros, So Many Freedoms: A Study of the Major Fiction of Mulk Raj Anand, Oxford University Press (Delhi), 1977.

Fisher, Marlene, Wisdom of the Heart, Sterling, 1980.

Gautam, G. L., Mulk Raj Anand's Critique of Religious Fundamentalism: A Critical Assessment of His Novels, Kanti Publications (Delhi), 1996.

George, C. J., Mulk Raj Anand, His Art and Concerns: A Study of His Non-Autobiographical Novels, Atlantic (New Delhi), 1994.

Gupta, G.S. Balarama, editor, Studies in Indian Fiction in English, JIWE Publications (Gulbarga, India), 1987, pp. 128-141.

Iyengar, K.R. Srinivasa, Indian Writing in English, Asia Publishing House, 1962.

Kaul, Premila, The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand: A Thematic Study, Sterling, 1983.

Kirpal, Viney, editor, The New Indian Novel in English: A Study of the 1980s, Allied Publishers, 1990, pp. 11-23.

Lindsay, Jack, The Lotus and the Elephant, Kutub-Popular, 1954.

McLeod, A. L., editor, Subjects Worthy of Fame: Essays in Commonwealth Literature in Honour of H.H. Anniah Gowda, Sterling, 1989, pp. 17-26.

Naik, M. K., Mulk Raj Anand, Arnold-Heinemann, 1973.

Nasimi, Reza Ahmad, The Language of Mulk Raj Anand, Raja Rao and R.K. Narayan, Capital Publishing (Delhi), 1989, pp. 5-28.

Niven, Alastair, The Yoke of Pity, Arnold-Heinemann, 1978.

Packham, Gillian, Mulk Raj Anand: A Checklist, Centre for Commonwealth Literature and Research (Mysore), 1983.

Patil, V.T. and H.V. Patil, Gandhism and Indian English Fiction: The Sword and the Sickle, Kanthapura, and Waiting for the Mahatma, Devika Publications (Delhi, India), 1997.

Prasad, Shaileshwar Sati, The Insulted and the Injured: Untouchables, Coolies, and Peasants in the Novels of Mulk Raj Anand, Janaki Prakashan, 1997.

Rajan, P. K., Mulk Raj Anand: A Revaluation, Arnold Associates (New Delhi), 1994.

Riemenschneider, D., The Ideal of Man in Anand's Novels, Kutub-Popular, 1969.

Sharma, Ambuj Kumar, The Theme of Exploitation in the Novels of Mulk Raj Anand, H.K. Publishers (New Delhi), 1990.

Sinha, Krishna Nandan, Mulk Raj Anand, Twayne, 1972.


Ariel, July, 1991, pp. 27-48.

Contemporary Indian Literature, December, 1965.

Indian Literature, Volume XIII, number 1, 1970, pp. 147-149.

International Fiction Review, January, 1977, pp. 18-22.

Journal of American Folklore, October-December, 1951, p. 439.

Journal of Commonwealth Literature, July, 1968, pp. 52-64.

Life and Letters Today, autumn, 1936, pp. 208, 210.

Literary Criterion, Volume XVIII, number 4, 1983, pp. 1-12.

Literary Half-Yearly, July, 1986, pp. 105-123.

Literature East and West, Volume XVII, numbers 2-4, 1973, pp. 199-211.

Modern Asian Studies, October, 1974, pp. 473-489.

New Statesman, January 1, 1982, p. 21.

Scrutiny, June, 1935.

Spectator, April 28, 1939, p. 730.

World Literature Today, summer, 1978; spring, 1983, p. 348; summer, 1992, pp. 580-581.

World Literature Written in English, April, 1974, pp. 109-122; November, 1975; spring, 1980; summer, 1982, pp. 336-341.


Independent Online, (September 29, 2004).



Chicago Tribune, October 2, 2004, Section 2, p. 10.

Independent (London, England), September 29, 2004, p. 32.

Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2004, p. B8.

New York Times, September 30, 2004, p. C14.

Times (London, England), September 30, p. 65.

Washington Post, October 3, 2004, p. C10.