• A History of P.E.N. in Pre-independence India and the Bombay-Calcutta Rivalry

    Tariq Sheikh (see profile)
    Indian literature, Literature
    Item Type:
    International PEN, Kalidas Nag, PEN Club India, Sophia Wadia, World literature
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    P.E.N. International, the international organisation of writers established in London in 1921, established its branch in India in 1933. The main branch in India, officially considered directly under the London branch and officially called “P.E.N. India Centre”- was established in Bombay under the leadership of the theosophist Sophia Wadia. Another branch, officially designated as the P.E.N. India Centre’s “Bengal chapter”, was opened in Calcutta with the historian Kalidas Nag at the helm of affairs. Letters and documents archived in the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin and the British Library in London show that the early history of the P.E.N. in India is one riddled with conflict between these two branches. Unlike organisations like the Progressive Writers’ Association, the P.E.N. in India was aligned to the mainstream nationalist movement, with top office bearers of the Indian National Congress like Nehru and Sarojini Naidu playing important roles. People who participated in the activities of the P.E.N. in India went on to hold influential positions in the post-independence era. This article presents a short history of the early days of this important yet forgotten organisation.
    This article is result of a survey of the quoted primary material as part of a project on “The Inter-relation of the International P.E.N. and Literary History of the World: Japan-China-India Diplomacy and History of the British Commonwealth and Europe” (JSPS Kakenhi 16K02607). The primary material was collected by Prof. Meno Yuki of Kokushikan University, Tokyo from the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas and by the author from the British Library, London.
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    Journal article    
    Last Updated:
    2 years ago
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