Mulk Raj Anand was a distinguished writer, critic, editor, journalist and political activist. Born into the Kshatriya (warrior) caste in the Punjabi city of Peshawar, he was educated at cantonment schools before completing a degree at the University of Punjab, Amritsar, where his involvement in the 1921 Civil Disobedience campaign against the British resulted in a short period of imprisonment. He was just nineteen years old when he left India for England on a scholarship to mark the silver wedding of George V and Queen Mary. On his arrival he registered at University College London to study for a doctorate in philosophy which he was awarded in 1929.
In England, Anand quickly became involved in left wing politics as well as the Indian independence movement. He was vocal in his support of the coal miners’ strike in 1926 and of the General Strike that followed, and soon afterwards joined a Marxist study circle at the home of the trade unionist Alan Hutt. In the 1930s and 1940s, he spoke regularly at meetings of Krishna Menon’s India League, where he came into contact with a number of British intellectuals and activists including Bertrand Russell, H. N. Brailsford and Michael Foot, and in 1937 he left Britain for three months to join the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Drawing also on his talents as a writer in the struggle for socialism, Anand wrote numerous essays on Marxism, Fascism, the Spanish Civil War, Indian independence and other political movements, events and issues of the day. He turned down the offer of a post at Cambridge University. Instead, he lectured in literature and philosophy at the London County Council Adult Educational Schools and the Workers' Educational Association, from 1939 to 1942. Anand’s belief in an international socialism, evident in the range of his political activities, was matched by his conviction of the inextricability of politics and literature. This is reflected in many of his novels which depict the lives of...
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