Ismat Chughtai

Ismat Chughtai

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Ismat Chughtai

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Ismat Chughtai (Urdu: عصمت چغتائی) (August 1915 &ndash; 24 October 1991)<sup id="1">1</sup> was an eminent Urdu writer, known for her indomitable spirit and a fierce feminist ideology. She was considered the grand dame of Urdu fiction, as one of the four pillars of modern Urdu short story, the other three being Saadat Hasan Manto, Krishan Chander, and Rajinder Singh Bedi. Her outspoken and controversial style of writing made her the passionate voice for the unheard, and she has become an inspiration for the younger generation of writers, readers and intellectuals.


She was born in Badayun, Uttar Pradesh and grew up largely in Jodhpur where her father was a civil servant. She was ninth of ten children (six brothers, four sisters), and since her older sisters got married while Ismat was very young, the better part of her childhood was spent in the company of her brothers, a factor which she admits contributed greatly to the frankness in her nature and writing. Her brother, Mirza Azim Beg Chughtai, already an established writer, when Ismat was still in her teens, was her first teacher and mentor.

In 1936, still working on her bachelor’s degree, she attended the first meeting of the Progressive Writers' Association in Lucknow. After her B.A., Ismat worked for a B.T. (a Bachelor’s in Education), thus becoming the first Indian Muslim woman to have earned both degrees. In this period she started writing in secret...
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