Author: Madan Gopal
Publisher: Writers Workshop
ISBN/UPC (if available): 81-8157-674-8
Having written a dozen biographies and, in the worlds of a reviewer, "carved a niche" for myself in the field of literary biographies, I have no hesitation in admitting that, before I started writing, I had not read a single book on the art of writing biographies. Book writing or scholarship necessary for this purpose had not been a tradition in my family. I can't remember having seen a book in the house until later in life.
In this age of electronic and audiovisual domination, it is interesting to recall what Dr.Appadorai, the real architect of the Indian Council of World Affairs, said to me decades ago, when I was working on the Delhi Statesman.
"You newspapermen of today have made our life miserable. Early in the 20th century when I was teaching in Chennai, I used to leave college in the evening, on the way back home collect the daily that then was issued in the afternoon, go home, have some snacks and later have dinner. I would then pick the day's newspaper and read it from beginning to the end, and slept updated in the news. Next morning, started another day. Sunday was a holiday, and no newspaper came out that day. The times changed, particularly during World War I, when there was hunger for news. This was followed by the national liberation movement. The newspaper format changed and it started coming out in the morning. Now we cannot have breakfast in peace. The headlines invite us to rush through the introduction. And this happens seven days a week. Until World War II, there was no paper that came out on Sundays".
I think I can claim to be the first trained Indian Diploma holder in journalism in India. The course was started by the Punjab University in 1941. I attended it and stood first. I then started my career with the Civil and Military Gazette of Lahore and later the standard group of papers in Mumbai, and subsequently. The statesman of New Delhi, and then a Hindi daily, Jansatta, in Delhi and after a break, with Dainik Tribune of Chandigarh whence I retired as editor in 1982.
Writing for newspapers and journals was my hobby even before I entered Journalism. Thus, while working for newspapers or the Government for 65 years, I wrote the first ever biographies in English of Premchand, Bharatendu Harishchandra, Goswami Tulsidas, Balmukund Gupta, Sri Chhotu Ram, Dyal Singh Majithia and the first ever book on free India’s foreign policy, India through the Ages, and the role of the press in the freedom movement and, finally, 65 years after Premchand’s demise, the first collection of his works in Urdu.