At the age of 7, Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava, better known as Munshi Premchand, started studying at a madrassa. His interest in Urdu and Persian developed over time, and this largely affected his literary works in later years. Born in Lemhi, Uttar Pradesh, Munshi Premchand was the fourth child of Ajaib Lal and Anandi Devi. He was named ‘Nawab’ by his Uncle and ‘Nawab Rai’ became his first pen name. Premchand wrote many stories spanning different genres. Dhanpat Rai aka Premchand did not have a normal childhood after the demise of his mother. His father got married again and his stepmother was not affectionate towards Premchand. Later in his career, many characters and stories were based on her stepmother and the things he had seen in his life.
Premchand found solace in books. He used to love reading Hindi, Urdu, English, and Persian books. His love for books expanded and he became one of the legends in the field of literature. On his 138th Birthday, let’s have a look at five interesting facts about the life of Munshi Premchand.
1.The original name of Munshi Premchand is Dhanpat Rai Shrivastava. He took the pen name Nawab Rai before settling with Premchand.
2. The title of ‘Munshi’ was given to him as an honor by the readers. After that, he became Munshi Premchand.
3. He wrote about a dozen novels, 250 stories, and essays and translated a number of foreign literature into Hindi.
4. Premchand married Shivarani Devi, who was a child widow, bashing all anti-social norms. It was a revolutionary move at that time.
5. He began his career as a salesboy at a bookshop so that he could get a chance to read more and more books. After that, he gave home tuition before joining a government school as a teacher.
Munshi Premchand wrote the first book on the life of his uncle but it was never published. His first short novel was Asrar-e-Ma’abid (‘Secrets of God’s Abode’, Devasthan Rahasya in Hindi), which highlights corruption among temple priests and their sexual exploitation of poor women. Premchand is considered to be the first Indian Hindi novelist who showcased real life in his work. One of his famous works is ‘Godan’, which was an in-house publication of Premchand. It was printed in Premchand’s press called ‘Sarawati Press’ and was themed around socio-economic deprivation as well as the exploitation of the village poor.