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Mulk Raj Anand dies

Mulk Raj Anand, eminence grise of Indian writing in English, who won fame for works including Untouchable and Coolie, died aged 99 in a hospital in Pune, India, on 28 September 2004, The Times of India reported.

Born in Peshawar (present-day Pakistan) in 1905, Anand was educated at Cambridge and London where he did his doctorate in philosophy. In England, he interacted with the Bloomsbury intellectuals and other literary lights of the time like E M Foster, Henry Miller, T S Eliot, Virginia Woolf and Herbert Read.

Several of his books, including A Hindu View of Art, were illustrated by noted sculptor Eric Gill, inventor of the Gill type. His friend, Mumbai-based artist Badri Narayan, illustrated another slim book of his called Street Games of India.

In the 1930s, Anand contributed to a BBC programme run by George Orwell and the two became good friends, spending hours walking in London’s Regent Park. In an interview with The Times of India on Orwell’s centenary in 2003, Anand said, “In recall, I feel that our friendship was an example of independent writers from the imperial country and the subject country getting together.”

The founder-editor of the literary Marg magazine and Tagore professor of art in Punjab University, Anand, along with R K Narayan, was among the early and pioneering Indian writers in English. He started the Progressive Writers’ Movement and, according to The Times of India, “was a mentor of sorts to young poets like Dom Moraes who were desperate for a literary scene in Mumbai after being exposed to London’s stimulating air.”

Anand preferred to live in one of the outhouses on his estate rather than the master cottage known as Dagdi Bangla. He left his property to the Sarvodaya Trust.

 He is survived by wife Shirin Vajifdar, a classical dancer, and niece Jyoti, who also teaches dance.

Author: Editor

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