Ahmed Ali (writer)

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Ahmed Ali
Born 1 July 1910
Delhi, British India[1]
Died 14 January 1994
Karachi, Pakistan[1]
Occupation Writer
Known for one of the founders of All-India Progressive Writers Movement[2]

Ahmed Ali (1 July 1910 in Delhi – 14 January 1994 in Karachi) (Urdu: احمد علی ‎) was a Pakistani novelist, poet, critic, translator, diplomat and scholar. His writings include Twilight in Delhi (1940), his first novel in the English language.[1]

Born in Delhi, British India, Ahmed Ali was educated at Aligarh and Lucknow universities. He taught at the leading Indian universities including in Lucknow and Allahabad from 1932–46 and joined the Bengal Senior Educational Service as professor and head of the English Department at Presidency College, Calcutta (1944–47). Ali was the BBC's Representative and Director in India during 1942–45.[3] During the Partition of India, he was the British Council Visiting Professor to the University of China in Nanking as appointed by the British government of India. When he tried to return to India in 1948, K. P. S. Menon (then India's ambassador to China) did not let him and he was forced to move to Pakistan.[4]

In 1948, he moved to Karachi.[5] Later, he was appointed Director of Foreign Publicity, Government of Pakistan. At the behest of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, he joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1950. The first file he received was marked 'China' and when he opened it; it was blank. He went to China as Pakistan's first envoy and established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic in 1950.[2]

Literary career[edit]

Ali started his literary career at a young age and became a cofounder of the All-India Progressive Writers' Movement with the publication of Angaaray (Embers) in 1932. It was a collection of short stories in the Urdu language and was a bitter critique of middle-class Muslim values in British India,[1][6] by four young friends- Ahmed Ali, Mahmud-uz-Zafar, Sajjad Zaheer and Rashid Jahan. This book was later banned by the British Government of India in March 1933.[4] Shortly afterward, Ali and Mahmud-uz-Zafar announced the formation of a "League of Progressive Authors", which was later to expand and become the All-India Progressive Writers' Association.[7] Ali presented his paper "Art Ka Taraqqi-Pasand Nazariya" (A Progressive View of Art) in its inaugural conference in 1936. A pioneer of the modem Urdu short story, Ali's works include collections of short stories: "Angaare" (Embers), 1932; Hamari Gali (Our Lane), 1940; Qaid Khana (The Prison-house), 1942; and Maut Se Pehle (Before Death), 1945.[2]

Ali achieved international fame with his first novel written in English Twilight in Delhi, which was published by The Hogarth Press in London in 1940.[8] This novel, as its title implies, describes the decline of the Muslim aristocracy with the advance of the British colonialism in the early 20th century.[1]

"Al-Quran, A Contemporary Translation (Princeton University Press, Oxford University Press & Akrash) is Professor Ahmed Ali's most outstanding contribution in the field of translation. Approved by eminent Islamic scholars, it has come to be recognized as the best existing translations of the holy Quran."[2]

During the 1950s, Ahmed Ali worked for the Pakistan Foreign Service, establishing embassies in Morocco and China.[9] "He joined the Pakistan Foreign Service at the insistence of Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, and the first file he received was marked 'China' but was blank. He successfully established diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China in record time and the Pakistan embassy in Peking in 1950; and the embassy in Morocco, in 1958."[2]

"A distinguished gentleman of refined taste and manners, Professor Ahmed Ali had a deep interest in Sufism and a passion for Ghalib. His writings voiced concern over the decay of Muslim culture and the injustices of colonial powers.[2]

Awards and recognition[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ahmed-Ali#ref845471, Profile of Ahmed Ali (writer) on Encyclopædia Britannica, Retrieved 7 Oct 2016
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Profile of Professor Ahmed Ali on Pakistan Post website, Retrieved 20 May 2017
  3. ^ Orwell and Politics. Penguin UK, 2001 At Google Books. Retrieved 7 October 2016
  4. ^ a b Introduction by the author, Ahmed Ali, Twilight in Delhi, Rupa Publishing Co., Delhi, 1993
  5. ^ William Dalrymple (1993). City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi. HarperCollins. ISBN 000215725X. [page needed]
  6. ^ "Angaaray". Penguin Books India. , Retrieved 7 Oct 2016
  7. ^ The Leader of Allahabad, 5 April 1933
  8. ^ Twilight in Delhi, The Hogarth Press, 1940; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1966; OUP, Karachi, 1984; Sterling Paperbacks, Delhi, 1973; New Directions, New York, 1994; Rupa Publications, Delhi, 2007; Urdu translation, Akrash Press, Karachi, 1963, Jamia Millia, Delhi, 1969; (French) French translation, Editions Gallimard, Paris, 1989; Spanish translation, Ediciones Martinez Roca, 1991.
  9. ^ Ali, Ahmed (1974). "The Progressive Writers Movement and Creative Writers in Urdu". In Carlo Coppola. Marxist Influences and South Asian Literature. East Lansing: Michigan State University. p. 36. ISBN 81-7001-011-X. 

External links[edit]