Premchand (1880-1936), considered one of the greatest fiction writers in Hindi, was born Dhanpat Rai in Lamahi, a small village near Benares. He wrote in Urdu under the name Nawab Rai and changed it to Premchand when his collection of short stories, Soz-e Watan, was seized for sedition in 1909. In a prolific career spanning three decades, Premchand wrote fourteen novels, two plays, almost 300 short stories and several articles, reviews and editorials. He edited four journals, and also set up his own printing press. Though best known for his stories exposing the horrors of poverty and social injustice, he wrote on a variety of themes with equal felicity-romance, satire, social dramas, nationalist tales, and yarns steeped in folklore.
Munshi Premchand is one of the most important writers of the Hindi-Urdu canon. His prolific writing contributed largely to shape the genre the short story as we know it in India. His range and diversity were limitless as he tackled themes of romance and satire, gender politics and social inequality, with unmatched skill and compassion. In a time when women virtually had no agency, Premchand wrote stories that helped to shed light on their plight within a patriarchal society. Although his female characters are sometimes considered conservative by modern standards, the fact that he used his works to highlight the difficult place that they occupied in his time is significant in itself.