Iqbal Singh

Date of birth: 
28 Sep 1912
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
01 Jan 2001
Precise date of death unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1936-41 at least


Iqbal Singh was a Punjabi author, journalist and broadcaster. Fearing that their son would become radicalized by the political climate of the Punjab in the 1920s and 1930s, his parents sent him to England and France to complete his education. In London, however, he became involved with a group of politically active writers and intellectuals, including Mulk Raj Anand, Sasadhar Sinha and Krishnarao Shelvankar. With Sinha, Shelvankar and the Ceylonese writer Alagu Subramaniam, he founded the magazine Indian Writing which combined literature with politics and was based at the Bibliophile Bookshop. Indian Political Intelligence surveillance files place him at several meetings of the Progressive Writers’ Association, and he contributed a short story to the first (and probably only) edition of their magazine New Indian Literature. He also attended numerous India League meetings, where he associated with British political figures of the left such as Reginald Bridgeman and Ben Bradley, as well as his fellow Indian writers and activists.

Singh published his first book, Gautama Buddha, an analysis of the Buddha’s life, in 1927 when in his early twenties. It shows the influence on him of European writers such as Shakespeare and Baudelaire, as well as Indian writers. In addition to short fiction, he wrote essays on Indian literature, art, history and politics which he contributed to a number of magazines. He published a book on the poet-philosopher Mohammad Iqbal, and co-edited an anthology of short stories by Indian writers with Mulk Raj Anand, and a collection of socio-political essays on India on the cusp of independence with Raja Rao. It is uncertain exactly when he returned to India. Once there, he continued to work as a journalist and writer, as well as a broadcaster.


Surat Alley, Mulk Raj Anand, Ben Bradley, Reginald Bridgeman, D. P. Chaudhuri, D. N. Dutt, Mrs Dutt, P. N. Haksar, Sunder Kabadia, Narayana Menon, V. K. Krishna Menon, Syedi Mohamedi, Raja Rao, K. S. Shelvankar, Sasadhar Sinha, Alagu Subramaniam, Sajjad Zaheer.

London Indian Majlis

Involved in events: 

Meetings of the India League and the Progressive Writers’ Association

Published works: 

Gautama Buddha (London: Boriswood, 1937)

(ed. with Raja Rao) Changing India (London: Allen & Unwin, 1939)

(ed. with Mulk Raj Anand) Indian Short Stories (London: New India Publishing Company, 1946)

(ed. with Raja Rao) Whither India? (Baroda: Padmaja Publications, 1948)

The Ardent Pilgrim: An Introduction to the Life and Works of Mohammed Iqbal (London: Longmans, 1951)

Rammohun Roy: A Biographical Inquiry into the Making of Modern India (London: Asia Publishing House, 1958)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Indian Writing

Life and Letters (‘India: A Contemporary Perspective’, 21.20, 1939; ‘Indian Art: Perspective for a Revaluation’, 28.42, 1941; ‘Tagore: A Determination’, 32.55, 1942)

New Indian Literature (‘When One Is In It’, 1, 1936)


Mulk Raj Anand, Life and Letters 18.11 (1938), pp. 178-80 (Gautama Buddha)

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/450, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/453, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

L/PJ/12/499, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras