Amrita Pritam was born in 1919 into a Sikh family in Gujranwala, Punjab, (today in Pakistan) as the only child of a schoolteacher and a poet. Her mother died when she was eleven. She began to write at an early age, and her first collection was published when she was only sixteen years old, the year she married an editor to whom she was engaged in early childhood.
Communal violence that followed the partition in 1947, saddened her as it did many. She explored and wrote extensively about that human dilemma. She worked until 1961 for All India Radio. She was divorced in 1960, and following that her work became more explicitly feminist, drawing on her unhappy marriage in many of her stories and poems.
A number of her works have been translated into English from Punjabi, including her autobiographical works Black Rose and Revenue Stamp. Her novel Pinjar (Skeleton) was made into a Hindi movie by the same name, which released in 2003. Pinjar is set against the backdrop of the violent frenzy and rioting that engulfed the whole of Punjab in the months preceding partition.
Pritam often wrote on the condition of Indian women and her writings reflected their neglect and suppression in Indian society. She was awarded the Jnanpith, India’s highest literary award, in 1981 for Kagaj te Canvas (Paper and Canvas).
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