Ahmed Ali (1 July 1910 in
Delhi – 14 January 1994 in Karachi) (Urdu:
احمد علی) was a Pakistani novelist, poet, critic,
translator, diplomat and scholar. His writings include Twilight in
Delhi (1940), his first novel in the English language.
Born in Delhi, British India, Ahmed Ali was educated at Aligarh and
Lucknow universities, in the latter "having achieved the highest marks
in English in the history of the university." He taught at the
leading Indian universities including in
Lucknow and Allahabad from
1932–46 and joined the Bengal Senior Educational Service as
professor and head of the English Department at Presidency College,
Calcutta (1944–47). Ali was the BBC's Representative and Director in
India during 1942–45. During the Partition of India, he was the
British Council Visiting Professor to the University of China in
Nanking as appointed by the British government of India. When he tried
to return to India in 1948,
K. P. S. Menon
K. P. S. Menon (then India's ambassador to
China) did not let him and he was forced to move to Pakistan.
In 1948, he moved to Karachi. Later, he was appointed Director of
Foreign Publicity, Government of Pakistan. At the behest of Prime
Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, he joined the
Pakistan Foreign Service in
1950. The first file he received was marked 'China' and when he opened
it; it was blank. He went to China as Pakistan's first envoy and
established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic in
1 Literary career
2 Awards and recognition
3.3 Short stories
3.5 Literary criticism
5 External links
Ali started his literary career at a young age and became a cofounder
of the All-India
Progressive Writers' Movement with the publication of
Angaaray (Embers) in 1932. It was a collection of short stories in the
Urdu language and was a bitter critique of middle-class Muslim values
in British India, by four young friends- Ahmed Ali,
Sajjad Zaheer and Rashid Jahan. This book was later
banned by the British Government of India in March 1933. Shortly
afterward, Ali and Mahmud-uz-Zafar announced the formation of a
"League of Progressive Authors", which was later to expand and become
the All-India Progressive Writers' Association. Ali presented his
paper "Art Ka Taraqqi-Pasand Nazariya" (A Progressive View of Art) in
its inaugural conference in 1936. A pioneer of the modem
story, Ali's works include collections of short stories: "Angaare"
(Embers), 1932; Hamari Gali (Our Lane), 1940; Qaid Khana (The
Prison-house), 1942; and Maut Se Pehle (Before Death), 1945.
Ali achieved international fame with his first novel written in
English Twilight in Delhi, which was published by The Hogarth Press in
London in 1940. This novel, as its title implies, describes the
decline of the Muslim aristocracy with the advance of the British
colonialism in the early 20th century.
"Al-Quran, A Contemporary
Translation (Princeton University Press,
Oxford University Press & Akrash) is Professor Ahmed Ali's most
outstanding contribution in the field of translation. Approved by
eminent Islamic scholars, it has come to be recognized as the best
existing translations of the holy Quran." Other languages he
translated from, apart from Arabic and Urdu, included Indonesian and
During the 1950s, Ahmed Ali worked for the Pakistan Foreign Service,
establishing embassies in
Morocco and China. "He joined the
Pakistan Foreign Service at the insistence of Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan,
and the first file he received was marked 'China' but was blank. He
successfully established diplomatic relations with the Peoples
Republic of China in record time and the Pakistan embassy in Peking in
1950; and the embassy in Morocco, in 1958."
"A distinguished gentleman of refined taste and manners, Professor
Ahmed Ali had a deep interest in Sufism and a passion for Ghalib. His
writings voiced concern over the decay of Muslim culture and the
injustices of colonial powers.
Awards and recognition
"He was elected a Founding Fellow of the Pakistan Academy of Letters
Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Excellence) Award in 1980 by the President of
On 14 January 2005,
Pakistan Post issued a commemorative postage stamp
in his honor in its 'Men of Letters' series.
Ocean of Night (1964)
Rats and Diplomats (1986)
The Land of Twilight (1931)
Break the Chains (1932)
“When the Funeral Was Crossing the Bridge,” in
“Mahavaton Ki Ek Rât,” in Humayûn (Lahore), January 1931.
Angarey (1932). With Rashid Jahan, Mahmuduzzafar and Sajjad Zaheer.
“Our Lane,” in New Writing (London), 1936.
Hamari Gali (1940)
“Morning in Delhi,” in New Writing (London), 1940.
Maut se Pahle (1945)
“Before Death,” in New Directions 15 (New York), 1956.
Prima della Morte (1966). Bilingual Italian-
Urdu version of Maut se
The Prison-House (1985)
Purple Gold Mountain (1960)
First Voices (1965)
Selected Poems (1988)
“Poetry: A Problem,” in
Allahabad University Studies, vol. XI, no.
Art ka Taraqqî-Pasand Nazariya (1936)
Maxim Gorky as a Short-Story Writer,” in
Mr. Eliot’s Penny-World of Dreams (1941)
Failure of an Intellect (1968)
“Illusion and Reality, the Art and Philosophy of Raja Rao,” in
Journal of Commonwealth Literature, July 1968.
The Problem of Style and Technique in Ghalib (1969)
Ghalib: Two Essays (1969). With Alessandro Bausani.
The Golden Tradition: An Anthology of
Urdu Poetry (1973)
The Flaming Earth (1949). An anthology of selected Indonesian poems.
The Falcon and the Hunted Bird (1950)
The Bulbul and the Rose: An Anthology of
Urdu Poetry (1960)
Ghalib: Selected Poems (1969)
al-Qur’ân: A Contemporary
The Call of the Trumpet (unpublished). An anthology of modern Chinese
^ a b c d e https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ahmed-Ali#ref845471,
Ahmed Ali (writer) on Encyclopædia Britannica, Retrieved 7
^ a b c d e f g h i Profile of Professor Ahmed Ali on Pakistan Post
website, Retrieved 20 May 2017
^ Dr. T. Jeevan Kumar, "Ahmed Ali: A Progressive Writer" in The
English Literature Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (2014):57
^ Orwell and Politics. Penguin UK, 2001 At Google Books. Retrieved 7
^ a b Introduction by the author, Ahmed Ali, Twilight in Delhi, Rupa
Publishing Co., Delhi, 1993
^ William Dalrymple (1993). City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi.
HarperCollins. ISBN 000215725X. [page needed]
^ "Angaaray". Penguin Books India. , Retrieved 7 Oct 2016
^ The Leader of Allahabad, 5 April 1933
^ Twilight in Delhi, The Hogarth Press, 1940; Oxford University Press,
Delhi, 1966; OUP, Karachi, 1984; Sterling Paperbacks, Delhi, 1973; New
Directions, New York, 1994; Rupa Publications, Delhi, 2007; Urdu
translation, Akrash Press, Karachi, 1963, Jamia Millia, Delhi, 1969;
(French) French translation, Editions Gallimard, Paris, 1989; Spanish
translation, Ediciones Martinez Roca, 1991.
^ Alamgir Hashmi, "Ahmed Ali and the Transition to a Postcolonial Mode
in the Pakistani Novel in English" in Journal of South Asian
Literature, Vol. 33/34, No. 1/2 (1998/1999), p. 256
^ Ali, Ahmed (1974). "The Progressive Writers Movement and Creative
Writers in Urdu". In Carlo Coppola. Marxist Influences and South Asian
Literature. East Lansing: Michigan State University. p. 36.
Online Quran includes the
Qur'an translation by Ahmed Ali.
Angaaray (Penguin Books, 2014), Retrieved 7 Oct 2016
ISNI: 0000 0001 1827 3347
BNF: cb12122821p (da