In keeping with our tradition (2012,2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), we have compiled a list of Indian authors whose work has entered the 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 the calendar year 1956 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 the date of publication.
We collected the data from various sources including Wikipedia, books on the history of Indian literature (brought out by the Sahitya Akademi) 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 for 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.
Dakshinaranjan Mitra Majumder (1877–1956)
He was a celebrated Indian writer in Bengali of fairy tales and children’s literature. His major contribution to Bengali literature was the collection and compilation of Bengali folk and fairy tales in four volumes – Thakurmar Jhuli (Grandmother’s Bag of Tales), Thakurdadar Jhuli (Grandfather’s Bag of Tales), Thandidir Thale (Maternal-Grandmother’s Bag of Tales) and Dadamashayer Thale (Maternal-Grandfather’s Bag of Tales).
Amarlal Hingorani (1907-1956)
A Sindh short story writer known for his realistic portrayal of characters. His famous story is ‘Ado Abdul Rehman’ which was included by the UNESCO on one of its publications.
Anantram Kandukuri (Karuna Kumara) (1901-1956)
A famous Telugu writer of short stories, first to treat rural life as themes. He was also an actor of mythological roles.
Bal Sitaram Mardhekar (1909 – 1956)
B.S. Mardhekar was a writer-poet, critic and novelist who is also known as the Father of Modernism in Marathi poetry. Born in Maharashtra, he studied in Pune and London, and worked at All India Radio. His earlier collection of poems, Shishiragam, was a product of Ravi Kiran Mandal poetry which was sentimental and lyrical. But his later avant-garde poetry altered his reputation. Works by him include Anakhi Kahi Kavita, and novels like Pani and Ratrica Divas. Mardhekar was influenced by Marathi bhakti poetry, the poetry of T. S. Eliot and W. H. Auden.
Baishnaba Pani (1882–1956)
He was an Odia jatra writer and arranger. He incorporated mythology and contemporaray issues in his fiction. He is credited with writing 600 works, including 150 yatras, 19 farces, 65 anthologies of lyrics, etc.
Har Datt Sharma (1890-1956)
A Dogri poet, author of Dogri Bhajanmala (1936).
Makhmur Dihlavi, Fazl-I Ilahi (1900-1956)
A well-known Urdu poet, his famous work is Kulliyat-I Makhmur.
Manik Bandyopadhyay (1908-1956)
One of the major Bengali novelists and short story writers, he produced 36 novels and 177 short stories in his short lifespan. His earliest works reflect the impact of Freudian ideology. When he became a Communist, the sentiment reflected in his writing. His works include Putul Nacer Itikatha (1936), Padmanadir Majhi (1936), Jiyanta(1950), and Sahartali.
Mohammad Mobin (pseudonym Kaifi Chiryakoti) (1890-1956)
His important work is Jayahiri-I sukhan, va’ni, Urdu shu’ara ke kalam ka intikhab (4 volumes-1935-1939), a selection of poems by various poets. His own poems were collected in Parah hai Jigar and Nashter-i-gham (1927).
Munsif Nachiket Drupadlal (pseudonym Ketan Munsi) (1930-1956)
A Gujarati short story writer, some of whose works are Andhari Rate (1952) and Svapnano Bhangar (1953).
Pandit Godavarish Misra (1886-1956)
A major Oriya poet, dramatist and novelist, he wrote a number of ballads and lyrical poems. Although he belonged to a conservative Brahmin family, Mishra was a socialist. He was also a competent editor. He published magazine Lokamukha from Banapur in 1924. He also used to write for the Eastcoast (An English paper) published by Shashi Bhusan Rath. He was awarded a doctorate in literature from Utkal University. He used literature as a weapon to promote patriotism. His works include Alekhika, Kalika, Kisalaya, Gitayana, Purusottama Deva, Mukunda Deva, 1817 and Arddha Satabdira Odisa O Tahinre Mo Sthana.
Qazi Mohammad Abdul Ghaffar (1888-1956)
He was a journalist and a political activist. His publications include Ajib and Tin paise ki chokri.
Sitaramacandra Rao, Oddiraju (1887-1956)
Along with his brother, these scholars have made a substantial contribution to the Telugu language in the Nizam state.
Sobharaj Fani (1883-1956)
A poet and essayist in Sindhi, especially known for his historical essays on about eighty towns and cities of Sindh. Some of his write-ups include Khyali Jhalka, Chita Phulawari, Roohani Tijala, Tarjuma-e-Gulistan (translation of Gulistan from Persian).
Vavilla Venkateswara Shastri (1885-1956)
He rendered many services for the development of Telugu studies by bringing out innumerable journals and publications.
Virumal Begraj (1874-1956)
This Deshbhakta was one of the first nationalist authors in Sindhi to go to jail during the freedom struggle. His famous work is Munhinji Jail Yatra (1923).
Yaganah Changezi (1883-1956)
He was an Urdu poet who published several volumes of poems with Mirza Yas. Yagana has four collections of poems to his credit: Nishtar-i- Yaas (1914), Tarana (1933), Aayat-i-Wijdani (1927) and Ganjina (1948), besides his works in prose, which include Ghalib-Shikan.
Zafar Ali Khan, Maulvi (1873-1956)
He was an Urdu poet and prose writer; founder and publisher of the Zamindar of Lahore, he wrote satirized poetry. His publications include Khayaban-I Faris, poems like Chamanistan and Nigaristan, and novels like Haqiqatva afsanah and Tilismi hur.