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Attia Hosain Biography

(1913–98), Phoenix Fled, Sunlight on a Broken Column

urdu india prose native

Indian writer, born in Lucknow, India, educated at La Martinière School and Isabella Thoburn College, Lucknow. Along with her liberal English education, she absorbed the courtly values and traditions of her aristocratic Muslim family, and studied Persian and Arabic as well as her native Urdu. Hosain moved to Britain in 1947, and worked for many years for the BBC. She has had considerable influence on Indo-Anglian fiction, and her work is admired for its lyrical prose and its carefully delineated social, historical, and political perspectives. The stories collected in Phoenix Fled (1953) focus mainly on the dispossessed, the underclass, and the peasantry; her imagistic prose evokes the cadences of her native Urdu, and a strong current of anti-colonial nationalism links her work to that of her progressive contemporaries in indigenous languages. Her novel Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961) articulates the personal dilemmas of a woman, a daughter of the ruling classes, caught between the demands of tradition and change; the background of events leading to the independence of India and the creation of Pakistan add depth to the novel.

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