K. M. George

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Dr. K. M. George
Dr. K. M. George
Dr. K. M. George at his home in Thiruvananthapuram
Born (1914-04-20)20 April 1914
Edayaranmula, Kerala
Died 19 November 2002(2002-11-19) (aged 88)
Nationality Indian
Other names Karimpumannil Mathai George
Occupation Editor, writer, Literary critic, academic, Scholar.
Known for Malayalam literature, Chief Editor of Malayalam Encyclopaedia
Notable work A Survey of Malayalam Literature,
Western Influence on Malayalam Language & Literature,
Comparative Indian Literature,
Masterpieces of Indian Literature

Karimpumannil Mathai George, popularly known as Dr. K. M. George, is an eminent Malayalam writer and educator. An erudite scholar and literary critic with astute organisational capabilities, he is best known as a pioneer of Comparative Indian Studies and Literatures.[1] For his monumental works – Comparative Indian Literature, Modern Indian Literature and Masterpieces of Indian Literature, that promoted national integration through literature in India, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2001, one of the highest national awards of India.

Early life and education[edit]

Born on 20 April 1914, K.M.George was the fourth among the five children born to Mathai and Mariamma at Edayaranmula,[2] a small village in the Pathanamthitta district of the state of Kerala. His house was on the banks of the river Pamba, where boat races are held every year. When he was barely 10 years of age, his father died leaving the responsibility of bringing up the children to his mother. She had a huge influence on him. After schooling he was taken to Madras by his elder brother and admitted to the Madras Christian College for the Intermediate Course. Unfortunately due to the demise of his brother (who was employed in the Accountant General's Office in Madras) he could not undergo his graduation there. He later joined the Union Christian College, Aluva, and passed his B.A. Hons. in Mathematics securing 2nd rank. But for his post-graduation at the University College, Trivandrum his elective was Malayalam Literature. Even before he completed his course he managed to get a tutor's post in the Madras Christian College. While teaching there, he continued with his education and research. He was the first person to get a PhD in Malayalam from the Madras University. His thesis was on Ramacaritam and the Study of Early Malayalam.


Dr.George taught at the Madras Christian College for 15 years from 1940. He left the college in 1955 to join the newly founded Sahitya Akademi in New Delhi as Assistant Secretary. In 1960 he was sent as Secretary- in- charge, of the newly opened branch in Madras. In 1969 he retired from the Sahitya Akademi and joined the Malayalam Encyclopaedia in Trivandrum, Kerala, as its Chief Editor. On completion of his contract with the Malayalam Encyclopaedia, he took on the compilation and editing of the monumental volumes – Modern Indian Literature, Comparative Indian Literature and Masterpieces of Indian Literature. He has also worked as Visiting Professor at the Chicago University, USA, The East West Centre, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, and The Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla, India. He was also the chairman of the Jnanpith advisory committee for Malayalam for several years.

Awards and recognition[edit]

These are some of the awards/recognition he received.

  • The Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1987along with P.N.Haksar and R.K.Narayan
  • The Padma Sri in 1988[3]
  • The Padma Bhushan in 2001[4]
  • The Ezhuthachan Puraskaram in 1996 (the highest award given by the Government of Kerala)
  • The Suranad Kunjan Pillai Award in 1997
  • The Vallathol Award[5] in 1998
  • The Kerala Sahitya Akademi's Fellowship in 1989
  • Emeritus Fellowship from the Central Government
  • Sahitya Ratna Puraskaram – the highest award given by the Mar Thoma Church

Personal life[edit]

Dr.George was married to Aleyamma George in June 1944. They have a son, K.G.Mathew, an engineer working in California, USA, and a daughter, Valsa Mary Mathew, who was a manager with Syndicate Bank. He died on 19 November 2002 at the age of 88 and was buried in Trivandrum with State honours.


“Dr.K.M.George Award Trust" was formed in 1985 on his completion of 70 years of age (Sapthathi). The main aim was to promote research in Malayalam language and literature and give them due recognition. He also formed another trust named "Dr.K.M.George Education Trust". This was mainly to finance students, of economically backward families, to pursue their education. The PhD thesis 'Nayakasankalpam Malayala Novelil' by Dr. George Onakkoor won the first K.M. George Sapthathi Award for the best thesis produced in Indian Universities in Language, Literature and Culture during the period from 1980 to 1985.

Dr. K.M.George had donated 2500 books, out of his extensive library which included a number of priceless books, to the 'reference section' of the Kerala University Library during his lifetime. Later, another 2500 books were donated by his family to 'Dr.K.M.George Memorial Study and Research Centre' located in the Vailopilly Samskriti Bhavan in Trivandrum.

Manuscripts, important letters and articles written by Dr. George were acquired and added to the archives of The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library in New Delhi in October 2005.


His writings encompass various aspects in literature. He was a learned writer of articles in the media, father of the encyclopaedia in Kerala, editor of Indian literature, researcher of place names of Southern India, travel writer( having travelled the world over), dramatist, biographer, literary critic and auto biographer. Equally well versed in English and in Malayalam, he had a good knowledge of many Indian languages. He has published more than 50 works, translated some works to Malayalam and edited more than 10 great anthologies.

Dr. K.M. George's works[edit]

  • Vedapusthakamahathmyam (1935)
  • Saadhu Kochunju (1947)
  • Ekaanka Mandalam (1947)
  • Radio natakankal (1947)
  • Prabandhachandrika (1953)
  • Munthirichaaru (1950)
  • Sardar Patel (1950)
  • Vicharakowthukam (1952)
  • America – ChilaVasthuthakal (1953)
  • Edward Jenner (1954) (Translation)
  • Janangalude Bharanam (1954)
  • Valarunna Kairali (1954)
  • Nirikshana Nilayam (1955)
  • Thathvavignanathil Punarnirmaanam (1955)
  • Snehathinte Shiksha (1955) (Translation of Tagore’s “The Wreck”)
  • Ramacaritham and the study of early Malayalam (1956)
  • 9 Radio Natakankal (1957)
  • Samskara Sarani (1957)
  • Thoreau (1962) (Translation)
  • Tagore (1962) (Translation)
  • Indiacharithrathile Bhoomishastrakadakangal (1962)
  • Jeevacharithra Sahityam (1964)
  • Soviet Naattil 3 Aazhcha (1964)
  • Americayil Poyakatha (1967)
  • American Life Through Indian Eyes (1967)
  • A Survey of Malayalam Literature (1968) : ISBN 9780210227350
  • Malayalam Grammar and Reader (1971)
  • Western Influence on Malayalam Language and Literature (1972)
  • Kumaran Asan (1972)
  • Avalokanangal (1978)
  • Tamizh Sahityam (1977)
  • A.R.Raja Raja Varma (1979)
  • Bharathathile Bhashakal (1979) – Children’s literature
  • Anveshanangal Padanangal (1980)
  • Amercayile Anubhavangal (1980-Abridged edition)
  • Sahitya Vignanavum Vignanasahityavum (1983)
  • Aartha Maanavu Thalamurakalilude (1985-tr. of Maxim Gorky)
  • Enneaakarshicha Prathibhashalikal (1985)
  • Bharathiya Sahitya Pattanam (1985)
  • Place Names of Southern India (1986)
  • Kavikal Nirupanarangathu (1986)
  • Kesari Balakrishna Pillai (1989)
  • K M Georginte Prabhandangal (1989)
  • Soviet NaattilVeendum (1989)
  • Arivukal Avalokanangal (1991)
  • Veekshanangal Vichinthanangal (1991)
  • A Many Branched Tree (1991)
  • Renaissance in Indian Literature and its Social Implications (1991)
  • Mookanarthakan (Translation of play by Asif Currimbhoy – 1991)
  • Facets of Indian Literature (1994)
  • Bharathiya Sahitya Sameeksha (1994)
  • Enne Njan Kaanumbol (1999)
  • The Role of Sanskrit in the development of Dravidian Literature (2000)

Books edited by Dr. K.M.George[edit]

  • Sahityacharithram Prasthanangalilude
  • Sarvavignanakosham volumes 1&2
  • Mahakavi Ulloor
  • Bharathiya Sahitya Charithram 2vols.
  • Comparative Indian Literature 2vols.(1984)
  • Modern Indian Literature – An Anthology in 3 volumes –Poems, Fiction, Plays and Prose(1992) ISBN 978-81-7201-324-0
  • Masterpieces of Indian Literature – 3 vols.
  • Aadhunika Malayala Sahitya Charitram Prasthanangalilude
  • Commonwealth Literature – Themes & Techniques
  • The best of Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai