Mulk Raj Anand Biography

Mulk Raj Anand, one of the first Indian writers in the English language to gain international recognition, was a prolific author known for his realistic and poignant portrayal of the struggles faced by the underprivileged in India. Having experienced firsthand the injustices of the caste system, Anand’s writings shed light on the social issues prevalent in his time. With a vast collection of novels, short stories, and essays to his name, he fearlessly exposed the dark practices of his homeland and actively campaigned for India’s independence.

Quick Facts

  • Indian Celebrities Born In December
  • Died At Age: 98
  • Family: father: Lal Chand, mother: Ishwar Kaur
  • Born Country: India
  • Novelists
  • Short Story Writers
  • Died on: September 28, 2004
  • Place of death: Pune
  • City: Peshawar, Pakistan
  • Awards: Padma Bhushan (1967), Sahitya Academy Award (1968)

Childhood & Early Life

Mulk Raj Anand was born in Peshawar to Lal Chand—a coppersmith and soldier—and Ishwar Kaur. From an early age, he was deeply affected by the problems of Indian society, particularly those related to religion and caste. He began writing at a young age, drawing inspiration from his love for a Muslim girl and the suicide of a relative who had been ostracized for sharing food with a Muslim. These experiences fueled his frustration and led him to express himself through words. Anand attended Khalsa College, Amritsar, and later graduated from the University of Punjab in 1924. During his time in college, he actively participated in the Non Co-operation Movement and even faced imprisonment. He then went on to study at University College, London and Cambridge University, earning his PhD in 1929. In England, he became involved in left wing politics.


Anand began his writing career in English language as English language publishers were more open to publishing the themes he wrote about. He started by publishing short reviews in T. S. Eliot’s magazine, ‘Criterion’. During the 1930s and 1940s, he was actively involved in politics and regularly spoke at meetings of the India League, which was founded by Krishna Menon. He had the opportunity to interact with intellectuals such as Bertrand Russell and Michael Foot, as well as authors like Henry Miller and George Orwell. Anand was deeply influenced by M.K. Gandhi. His first novel, “Untouchable,” was published in 1935 and shed light on the atrocities of the caste system in India. He played a significant role in the founding of the Progressive Writers’ Association in London in 1935. Anand’s novel “Two Leaves and a Bud” (1937) also addressed the exploitation of lower caste individuals in India. He joined the International Brigade in the Spanish civil war in 1937 and wrote extensively on Marxism, Fascism, Indian independence, and other political issues. Anand taught literature and philosophy at various institutions and served as the Tagore Professor of Literature and Fine Art at the University of Punjab during the 1960s. He also held positions such as the fine art chairman at Lalit Kala Akademi and president of Lokayata Trust.

Major Works

Anand’s most well-known work is the novel “Untouchable,” which tells the story of Bakha, a boy who is forced to become a toilet cleaner due to his caste. The novel explores the encounters and atrocities Bakha faces when he meets an upper caste man.

Awards & Achievements

Mulk Raj Anand was honored with the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian award, in 1967 for his significant contributions to literature and education. He also won the Sahitya Academy Award for his novel “The Morning Face” in 1968.

Personal Life & Legacy

Anand married actress Kathleen van Gelder in 1938, but their marriage ended in divorce in 1948. In 1950, he married Shirin Vajibdar, a classical dancer. Mulk Raj Anand passed away in 2004 at the age of 98.

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