In keeping with our our tradition (2012,2013, 2014, 2015), we have compiled a list of Indian authors whose work has entered public domain at the beginning of this year. The criteria for a particular work to enter public domain this year is for the author to have died in calendar year 1955 and the work to have been published before his death. If the work has been published after the author’s death, it will only come out of copyright after 60 years from date of publication.
We collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia, books on the history of Indian literature (brought out by the Sahitya Academy) and other online sources. While the sources for individual photos and pieces of information have not been attributed, we would like to acknowledge all these sources here. Many of the sources are linked below.
There are bound to be mistakes in this data. So please point out anything you notice. If you know of more Indian authors who died in 1955 and hence have entered public domain this year, do let us know and we will add it to the list with your reference.
Why should you as a writer or someone who loves books care? An author entering public domain means that most of his works are now free to be republished, translated, and converted to different formats and introduced to a new audience in any way you can imagine. It is possible to digitize these works and conserve them forever. So dig into the list and find some gems. And when you find one, let the whole world know.
Barada Charan Gupta (?-1955): He was a geologist and writer. He was a member of the Sabujpatra group of writers in colonial Bengal, a group who advocated free thinking and rationalism, and showcased Cholitobhasha, or Standard Colloquial Bengali dialect. Gupta’s contributions to Sabujpatra have been published with a foreword by Rabindranath Tagore. He had also authored a subsequent book.
Bokhud Dehlvi (1863-1955): He was a disciple of Dagh Dehlvi and educated in sher-o-shayari. His sense of linguistic nuances and worthy colloquialisms make him much appreciated. His compositions include Guflar-e-Bekhud and Shahsavaar e Bekhud.
Brijmohan Dattatriya Kaifi (1866-1955): An Urdu litterateur, he is famed for Kaifiyah, a book about the Urdu language and literature and stylistic issues, and Urdu hamari zuban, an essay in defence of Urdu.
Benudhar Rajkhowa (1872-1955) was a prominent writer, poet and dramatist from Assam. He was also an editor of the Bijuli magazine for while and wrote for a leading Assamese magazine at the time. His books include Duryodhanar Urubhanga and Daks Yajna. He also composed poetry and was a playwright and translator. In his satiical plays, he advocated feamle education and criticized the consequences of polygamy.
Khwaja Hasan Nizami (1873-1955): A ver popular Urdu novelist, his famous works include a historical novel called Tamanchah bar rukhsar-i-yazid and stories based on the rebellion of 1857 called Angrezon ke qisse.
Maula Bakhash Kushta (1876-1955): Even though Maula Bakhash Kushta did not receive a formal education, he became a Punjabi and Urdu poet of great fame. He wrote Kissas and ghazals in classical Urdu.
Karunanidhan Bandyopadhyay (1877-1955): This Bengali poet wrote poems revolvoing around the idea of Bhakti. Santi Jal, Dhan Durba and Rabindra-arati are some of his works.
Dinabandhu Jha (1878-1955): Known as called Mahavaiyakarana, he composed the greatest treatise on Maithali grammar called Mithila Bhasa Kosa , and Dhautupatha, a dictionary of verbal roots.
Jnanadabhiram Barua (1880-1955): He was a freedom fighter, writer, dramatist, and translator of Assamese. His works include Venishor Saud, Pancharatna, Dodair poja, and Bialator Sithi (Letters from Abroad), and Mor Katha, an autobiographical book.
Aslam Jairajpuri (1882- 1955): He was an Islamic scholar and professor of Arabic and Persian at the Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Milia Islamia. His famed work includes Talimat-e-Qur’an and History of Qur’an. Some of his works include Tarikh-ul-Ummat, Risala Mehjob-al-Arth, Novadrat, Fateh Misr , Hayat-e-Hafiz, Hayat-e-Jami, and many others.
Iqbal Ahmed Khan (1884-1955): He was a famous Urdu poet, writing under the pen name Suhail. He donned many hats- Islamic scholar, lawyer, educationist, nationalist and a politician. His work has been featured in the Encyclopedic Dictionary of Urdu Literature.
S.G. Shastri (1890-1955) : He was one of the major translators of Kannada. He even adapted Eurpean plays like Ibsen’s Doll’s House.
Samad Mir (1893-1955?): This Kashmiri poet used the idea of Sufi mysticism, folklore and personal experience in his poems. Akanandun is his famed work.
Shankar Dattatraya Javdekar (1894–1955) also known as Acharya Javdekar was a Marathi writer, freedom fighter and journalist. He combined socialist and Gandhian thinking in his book Sarwodaya and Samajwad; his other works include Lokamnya Tilak Wa Mahatma Gandhi and Adhunik Bharat.
Ramnath Biswas (1894 – 1955) started out as a manager at a swadeshi company. This is where he learnt to drive a car as well as a bicycle. He joined a revolutionary group and so was expelled, after which he enlisted as a soldier in World War I and began a life of traveling. Biswas traveled around the globe on his bicycle, raking up 51,000 miles. After a life of travel, he moved to Kolkatta and began to publish his travelogues with Anandabazar Patrika. He has written over 30 books including a book called Tour Round The World Without Money.
Ramnarayan V.Pathak (1887-1955): This eminent Gujarati writer and critic incorporated Gandhian and socialist views into his writing. His work Avatikal is a scientific look at socialism in the Indian context. His Brhat Pingal is a great work of prosody. He wrote essays and poems as well.
Rupnarayan Sinha (1904-1955): One of the pioneers of Nepali language, Sinha is well-known for his ornamental prose style. Bhramar is one of his best works.
Yashavant Pandya (1905-1955): This Gujarati playwright has written several plays including Padada Pachal, Saratna Ghoda and Yasavant Pandyanan Balnatako. Like many Gujarati writers of his time, he wrote maninly one-act plays.
Maharaja Bodhchandra Simha (1908-1955): This Manipuri poet and the last king of Manipur wrote Singel Nacom.
Asrar ul Haq Majaz (1911 – 1955): He was an Indian Urdu poet remembered for his romantic and revolutionary poetry in Urdu. The maternal uncle of the music composer Javed Akhtar, Majaz’s flair for Urdu made him a favorite at Aligarh Muslim University and later at All India Radio. He died of alcoholism and a broken heart in Lucknow. Some of his important works are Naya Adab, Parcam, Shab-e-taab, Aahang and Saaz-e-Nau.
Saadat Hasan Manto (1912 – 1955) is perhaps the most celebrated South Asian author. He wrote prolifically, his master genre being the short story, of which he has written 22 collections. His brazen honesty and treatment of sex won him much fame and adulation, though he was tried for obscenity thrice in British India and later on in Pakistan. He wrote about hypocrisy and the destruction of the moral edifice. Some of his best stories include Toba Tek Singh, Thanda Gosht, Kali Salwaar, Khol Do and many others. His publications include Do drame, Ao, Tin Auratein, Chugad, Khali Botlen Kholi Dubbe, Titanda Goshi, Namrood ki Khudai, Gorki Ke Afsane, and Phansi. He died in Lahore.