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Premchand was the pen name adopted by the Hindi writer Dhanpatrai who was born on 31 July, 1880 at Lamahi near Varanasi, India. His early education was in a madarasa under a Maulavi, where he learnt Urdu. When he was studying in the ninth class he was married, much against his wishes. He was then fifteen. In 1919, while he was a teacher at Gorakhpur, he passed his B.A., with English, Persian and History. He had a second marriage with Shivarani Devi, a child-widow, who wrote a book on him, 'Premchand Gharmein' after his death.
Premchand's literary career started as a freelancer in Urdu. In his early short stories he depicted the patriotic upsurge that was sweeping the land in the first decade of the present century. Soz-e-Watan, a collection of such stories published by Premchand in 1907, attracted the attention of the British government. In 1914, when Premchand switched over to Hindi, he had already established his reputation as a fiction writer in Urdu. Premchand was the first Hindi author to introduce realism in his writings. He pioneered the new art form – fiction with a social purpose. He wrote of the life around him and made his readers aware of the problems of the urban middle-class and the country's villages and their problems. He supplemented Gandhiji's work in the political and social fields by adopting his revolutionary ideas as themes for his literary writings.
Premchand was a prolific writer. He has left behind a dozen novels and nearly 250 short stories. Seva Sadan was his first novel. He believes in the principle: 'hate the sin and not the sinner.' His best known novels are Sevasadan, Rangamanch, Ghaban, Nirmalaand Godan. Three of his novels have been made into films.
Besides being a great novelist, Premchand was also a social reformer and thinker. His greatness lies in the fact that his writings embody social purpose and social criticism rather than mere entertainment. Literature according to him is a powerful means of educating public opinion. He believed in social evolution and his ideal was equal opportunities for all.
Premchand died on 8 October, 1936 and has since been studied both in India and abroad as one of the greatest writers of the century.
Premchand was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature.
Born Dhanpat Rai Srivastav, 'Munshi Premchand' was a novel writer, story writer and dramatist, and he has been referred to as the 'Upanyas Samrat' ('Emperor among Novelists') by some Hindi writers. His works include more than a dozen novels, around 250 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi.
Premchand was born on 31 July 1880 in Lamhi, a village located near Varanasi (Benares). When he was 7 years old, Premchand began his education at a madarsa in Lalpur, located around 2½ km from Lamahi. Premchand learnt Urdu and Persian from a maulvi in the madarsa. When he was 8, his mother died after a long illness. His grandmother, who took the responsibility of raising him, died soon after. Premchand felt isolated, as his elder sister had already been married, and his father was always busy with work. His father, who was now posted at Gorakhpur, re-married, but Premchand received little affection from his step-mother. The step-mother later became a recurring theme in Premchand's works.
He took the job of selling books for a book wholesaler, thus getting the opportunity to read a lot of books. He learnt English at a missionary school, and studied several works of fiction. In 1895, he was married at the age of 15, while still studying in the 9th grade. The match was arranged by his maternal step-grandfather. The girl was from a rich landlord family and was older than Premchand, who found her quarrelsome and not good-looking. In 1900, Premchand secured a job as an assistant teacher at the Government District School, Bahraich, at a monthly salary of rupees 20.
Dhanpat Rai first wrote under the pseudonym 'Nawab Rai'. His first short novel was Asrar-e- Ma'abid (Devasthan Rahasya in Hindi, 'The Mystery of God's Abode'), which explores corruption among the 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 8 October 1903 to February 1905.