Narayana Menon

Other names: 

Vadakke Kurupath Narayana Menon


BBC Eastern Service
200 Oxford Street
London, W1D 1 NU
United Kingdom
51° 30' 55.8288" N, 0° 8' 24.9612" W
5 Marchhall Road
Edinburgh, EH16 5HR
United Kingdom
55° 56' 11.0976" N, 3° 10' 6.042" W
176 Sussex Gardens
London, W2 1UD
United Kingdom
51° 30' 52.2648" N, 0° 10' 26.1264" W
Date of birth: 
27 Jun 1911
City of birth: 
Trichur, Kerala
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1938
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Edinburgh, London.


Narayana Menon studied at Madras and Edinburgh Universities. He was a Carnegie Scholar in English from 1939 to 1941 at Edinburgh where he became active in student politics, joining the Executive Council of the Indian Student Association of Great Britain. He graduated with a PhD in English for his thesis on the development of William Butler Yeats, which was published in 1942. E. M. Forster reviewed it favourably on BBC radio, which marked the start of a life-long friendship. Menon became a Senior Carnegie Scholar in 1941-2.

Menon was an accomplished veena player and gave numerous performances, amongst other at a charity concert in aid of the Indian poor in the East End of London in 1938. He joined the Indian Section of the Eastern Service in 1942. George Orwell commissioned him to write talks and Z. A. Bokhari used him on many occasions as a talks reader in Hindustani and English. His work at the BBC was diverse and included broadcasts on literature and music. He participated with Mulk Raj Anand in the fifth instalment of Orwell’s poetry discussion programme ‘Voice’. He also wrote programmes on E. J. Thompson in the ‘Friends of Bengal’ Series, adapted Tagore’s ‘The King of the Dark Chamber’ for the Hindustani Service and the Prem Chand story ‘The Shroud’ for the series ‘Indian Play’. He was advisor and producer of the Music Programme for the BBC Eastern Service, a post he held until 1947. Menon was a committed supporter of the Indian independence movement. He was involved with V. K. Krishna Menon’s India League and regularly gave music recitals at its events. He had also close links with Rajani Palme Dutt and Krishnarao Shelvankar.

After his return to India he became Director of Broadcasting in Baroda State from 1947-8, before moving to All India Radio, for which he worked from 1948-63, later becoming its director general.


Surat AlleyMulk Raj Anand, A. L. Bakaya, M. Blackman, Z. A. Bokhari, Venu Chitale, G. V. Desani, Basil Douglas, Cedric Dover, Rajani Palme Dutt E. M. Forster, T. S. Eliot, William Empson, Islam-il-Haq, Parvati Kumaramangalam, Una Marson, N. D. Mazumdar, Krishna Menon, George OrwellShah Abdul Majid Qureshi, Balraj Sahni, George Sampson, Krishnarao Shelvankar, Iqbal Singh, M. J. Tambimuttu, S. Arthur Wynn, L. F. Rushbrook-Williams (Director of the Eastern Service), W. B. Yeats.

Indian Student Association of Great Britain

Involved in events: 

Independence Day Events of the India League

Published works: 

The Development of William Butler Yeats (London: Oliver & Boyd, 1942)

‘Recollections of E.M. Forster’ in K. Natwar Singh (ed.) E. M. Forster: A Tribute (New York: Harcourt Brace and World, 1964), pp. 3-14

Contributions to periodicals: 

Forster, E.M. 'An Indian on W.B. Yeats', The Listener 28.728 (24 December 1942), p. 824 (The Development of William Butler Yeats)

Orwell, George, Horizon (The Development of William Butler Yeats)

Secondary works: 

'Concert To Aid Indian Poor Of East London ', The Times (25 October 1938), p. 12

Forster, E. M., Hughes, Linda K., Lago, Mary, et al. (eds) The BBC Talks of E. M. Forster, 1929-1960: A Selected Edition (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2008)

West, W. J. (ed.), Orwell: The War Broadcasts (London: Duckworth/BBC, 1985)


Memo from Orwell, Indian Section of the Eastern Service,  200 Oxford Street, London, 24 Feb. 1943


In this extract, Orwell defends the choice of Menon as programmes director for music.


As the point has been queried, we are asking Dr Menon to choose the 15 minute musical programmes in weeks 12, 14, etc. because he has shown himself competent in selecting programmes of this type, and he ahs the advantage of being a student both of European and Indian music. He is therefore probably a good judge of the types of European music likely to appeal to Indian listeners.

Archive source: 

BBC Written Archives Centre, Caversham Park, Reading