Premchand was born on July 31, 1880 in the village Lamhi near Varanasi to Munshi Ajaib Lal, a clerk in the post office, and his wife Anandi. His parents named him Dhanpat Rai (master of wealth) while his uncle, Mahabir, a rich landowner, called him Nawab (Prince), the name Premchand first chose to write under.
His early education was at a local madarsa under a maulvi, where he studied Urdu. Premchand’s parents died young – his mother when he was seven and his father while he was sixteen or seventeen and still a student. Premchand was left responsible for his stepmother and step-siblings.
Premchand was married at fifteen to a girl from a neighboring village but the marriage was a failure and, when Premchand left the village in 1899, the girl returned to her village. Several years later, in 1906, in response to an advertisement in a local paper from a man who wanted to marry off his child-widow daughter, he married a second time to Shivrani Devi.
The acclaimed writer wrote about 300 short stories, novels, essays and letters. He also wrote plays and did some translations. Many of Premchand’s stories have been translated into English and Russian. His last novel Godaan is considered one of the finest Hindi novels.
The main characteristic of Premchand’s writings is his interesting story-telling and use of simple language. His novels describe the problems of the rural peasant classes. He avoided the use of highly Sanskritised Hindi, but rather he used the dialect of the common people.
Famous stories: Panch Parameshvar, Idgah, Mantra, Nashaa, Shatranj ke khiladi, Poos ki raat, Atmaram, Boodhi Kaki, Bade Bhaisahab, Bade ghar ki beti, Kafan, Dikri Ke Rupai, Udhar Ki Ghadi, Namak Ka Daroga, Panch Phool, Prem Purnima, Ram Katha, Jurmana and The night ghost.
Novels: Gaban, Sevasadan, Godaan, Karmabhoomi, Kaayakalp, Manorma, Mangalsootra (incomplete), Nirmala, Pratigya, Premashram, Rangbhoomi, Vardaan, amd Prema.