Biography of R.K.Narayan-Indian English Novelist and Writer


Date of Birth: 10th October 1906-At Madras (Now Chennai)

Date of Death: 13th May 2001- At Chennai  at the age of 94 years

Father: Rasipuram Krishnasway Iyer-A School Head Master

Mother: Gnanambal

Younger Brother: R.K.Laxman- Indian Cartoonist

Occupation: Indian Writer-Novelist


  • The Lutheran Mission School in Purasawalkam,Madras
  •  C.R.C. High School, Madras
  • The Christian College High School,Madras
  • Bachelor of Arts: Maharaja College of Mysore

Personal and Writing Career of R.K.Narayan:

After completing his High School, R.K.Narayan was unable to pass the entrance examination for joining his graduation, and was at home for one year. During the time R.K.Narayan had been reading a lot and got interest in writing.

After one year he joined the college for his graduation and completed his 4 years instead of 3 years.
R.K.Narayan worked as a teacher for some time and decided to become a novelist and quit the job and stayed at home and started writing.

Initially, he had been writing for local Newspapers and Magazines and he could not get enough encouragement for his writing or sufficient income from his writings.

However, R.K.Narayan wrote his first novel-‘Swamy and Friends’ in the year 1930, in which he created his imaginary town called “Malgudi”.

In the year 1933, he went to his sister’s house at Coimbatore, when he was 27 years old, where he fell in love with a 15 years old girl Rajam, who lived near his sister’s house, who was a few inches taller than he, and married her, despite hurdles in the form of horoscope matching problems and financial problems.

RKN with Wife Rajam and Daughter Hema

Then R.K.Narayan joined a journal named ‘Justice’ run for the welfare of anti-brahmins, whereas, he was a Brahmin.

During the period, R.K.Narayan had many contacts and friends in India and in England. He had sent the manuscript of his first novel ‘Swamy and Friends’ to one of his friends at Oxford who showed the same to Mr.Graham Greene, who in turn recommended for publication in England.

Graham Greene

Mr.Graham Greene suggested R.K.Narayan to change/shorten his name from ‘R.K.Narayanaswamy’ to ‘R.K.Narayan’ to make his name familiar with overseas readers and also suggested the name ‘Swamy and Friends’ to his first novel.

In the year 1935, R.K.Narayan’s  first nove “Swamy and Friends’ was published in England.

Subsequently,three more of his books were also published in England by the help of Mr.Graham Greene and R.K.Narayan’s novels, especially the “Malgudi” became popular in England.

In the year 1939, his wife Rajam died of typhoid when his daughter Hema was just 3 years old.

R.K.Narayan’s first 3 novels had been ‘auto-biographical’, as he wrote based on his own life experiences of his school days, his love and marriage, death of his wife, taking care of his only daughter and his experiences on money matters/finance.

In the year 1940, he started his own journal named ‘Indian Thought’ and despite having had more than 1000 subscribers in the Madras City only, he could not manage to continue the journal for more than a year.

In the year 1943, R.K.Naryan started his own publishing company by name- “Indian Thought Publications”.

As the “Indian Thought Publications” started selling well, R.K.Narayan started constructing his own house in the outskirts of Mysore in the year 1948 and completed  the house in the year 1953.

R.K.Narayan's Own House at Mysore

R.K.Narayan’s Publishing Company “Indian Thought Publications” is still running well, managed by his granddaughter, now.

R.K.Narayan's Grand Daughter Bhuvaneswari

In the year 1953, R.K.Narayan’s books  were first published in the United States of America  by ‘Michigan State University Press’, and by ‘Viking Press’ from the year 1958.

In the year 1956, R.K.Narayan conducted his daughter Hema’s wedding with orthodox traditional Hindu rituals, and started travelling to various places in and out of India and continued to write.

R.K.Narayan's Daughter Hema

During this period in his visit to England, R.K.Narayan met his friend Graham Greene, who helped him to publish his first four  books.

Awards and Recognitions Given to R.K.Narayan:-

Award or Honour/Year:

Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel ‘The Guide’/1958

‘Padma Bhushan’ of the Union Government of India/1964

Film Fare Award for the ‘Best Story’ – ‘Guide’-Hindi Movie based on his novel ‘The Guide’/1967

Honorary Doctorate by the University of Leeds/1967

R.K.Narayan was commissioned by the Government of Karnataka to write a book to promote tourism in the state. The work was published as part of a larger government publication in the late 1970s

Honorary Doctorate by the Delhi University/1973

Honorary Doctorate by the University of Mysore/1976

Honorary Member of the British Royal Society of Literature

AC Benson Medal by the British Royal Society of Literature/1980

Some of R.K.Narayan’s works were translated to Chinese/1980

Elected as an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letter/1982

Nominated to Rajya Sabha of the Parliament of India for his contributions to Indian Literature/For 6 years from the year 1989

Padma Vibhushan by the Union Government of India/2001

Nominated many times for the Nobel Prize for Literature, however,he was not awarded ‘Nobel Prize’ for Literature.

Quotes by R.K.Naryan:

We come together only to go apart again. 
The law of life can’t be avoided. 
The law comes into operation the moment we detach ourselves from our mother’s womb. 
All struggle & misery in life is due to our attempt to arrest this law or get away from it or in allowing ourselves to be hurt by it. 
The fact must be recognized. A profound unmitigated loneliness is the only truth of life. 
All else is false. 
The law of life. 
No sense in battling against it…-


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