The 20th century bought with it the promise of empowerment of women. In the Indian sub-continent this took a prominent form post-Independence. India has some of the finest and internationally acclaimed women authors today, but this journey wasn’t easy for some of the earliest women authors. Today, we give you five prominent women authors who proved to be game-changers in women’s writing in India.
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Amrita Pritam is a widely known and loved author and poet, for documenting the struggles faced by women during partition. Considered to be the first major woman Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist, Pritam was also the first woman to win to win the Sahitya Akademi Award, amongst many other accolades. A pioneer in women’s writing post-independence, she opened the door for thousands of women who up until then were never given a voice.
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Ismat Chugtai was a liberal Muslim writer and considered to be a path-breaking woman writer of the region. Her work was often deemed controversial but that never stopped her from pursuing her passion. Chugtai was also the first Indian Muslim woman to have earned both- a B.A degree and B.Ed, according to Urdu Studies.com and was a part of the Progressive Writers Association.
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Also known as Gaura Pant, Shivani was a fiction writer and had a cult status as a Hindi magazine novelist. Along with her popular fictional stories, Pant also penned her travels to Russia and London, and later moved onto her autobiographical work. In her stories, she always portrayed the central women characters as strong women; who many believed was her alter-ego. Her daughters, Mrinal Pande and Ira Pande, are also established writers.
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Shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, Anita Desai is one of the gems India has produced in the recent years. The English graduate from the University of Delhi, Desai, started writing right in her childhood and published her first novel in her mid-twenties. A fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and of Girton College, Cambridge; she has also taught at some of the finest institutes in the US.
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Namita Gokhale’s writing has been revolutionary. Despite uproars from different parts of the country, following her satirical work due to its candid sexual humour; Gokhale has continued to write about subjects that are considered controversial. She is also the co-founder-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival and the member-secretary of Indian Literature Abroad (ILA).