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R K Narayan Biography

Last updated date: 20th Apr 2024
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Biography of R K Narayan

Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami (RK Narayan) was a well-known Indian writer famous for his set of work and writing in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. He was one of the leading and famous authors of early Indian literature written in English along with two others, Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao.

Narayan's greatest achievement was to make India accessible to the outside world through his writing and powerful words in his literature. Narayan's biography is always centered on his friendship with Graham Greene. Because he was Narayan's mentor and close friend. He was actively involved in identifying and getting publishers for Narayan's first four books. 

In 1941, he founded his own publishing house and his works quickly found a permanent and favorite place in the bookshelves of almost all the Indian homes. When he was at the peak of his fame in his successful career, Narayan was then awarded a Padma Bhushan in 1964 and 36 years later, just a year before his death at 94, another prestigious Padma Vibhushan award in 2000. Narayan was critically ill and hospitalized with cardiovascular problems two weeks ago in Madras, the capital of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, where he was born in 1906.

Early Life 

Narayan was born in 1906 in Madras (now renamed and known as Chennai, Tamil Nadu), British India into a normal Hindu family. He was one of eight children his parents have had and Narayan was second among the sons; his younger brother Ramachandran was an editor at Gemini Studios, and the youngest brother Laxman was a successful cartoonist. 

Narayan spent the early years of his life in Madras in the care of his grandmother and a maternal uncle and joined his parents mainly only during the vacations. At that time, India was still treated as the most important of the British empire, a colony held since 1857.


RK Narayan attended a number of schools than a usual student would as in Madras while living with his grandmother, in which the main school was the Lutheran Mission School in Purasawalkam, C.R.C. High School, and Christian College High School. Narayan was an ardent and passionate reader who grew up reading Dickens, Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Thomas Hardy.

After completing high school, Narayan failed the university entrance examination unfortunately but got to have lots of time to spend a year at home reading and writing; and then he successfully passed the final examination in 1926 and joined Maharaja College of Mysore.

RK Narayan was always found devoted and dedicated to reading whenever he got time.

Awards and Honors

Among the best works of RK Narayan among his 34 novels, The English Teacher (1945), Waiting for the Mahatma (1955), The Guide (1958), The Man-Eater of Malgudi (1961), The Vendor of Sweets (1967), and A Tiger for Malgudi (1983) were the best.

His novel The Guide (1958) won him the most prestigious National Prize of the Indian Literary Academy, which was his country's highest honor. Narayan received many other awards and honors including the AC Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature, the Padma Vibhushan, and the Padma Bhushan, India's second and third highest civilian awards, and in 1994 the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship, the highest honor of India's national academy of letters. He was also once nominated to the Rajya Sabha, which is the upper house of India's parliament.

To know more about RK Narayanan, log into Vedantu and find out what the experts have to say about this legend. His creations have made him an immortal figure in Indian literature that every booklover, irrespective of age, admires.

FAQs on R K Narayan Biography

1. Who is RK Narayan?

RK Narayan was one of the most important English-language Indian fiction authors. He is widely regarded as one of India's best novelists. He created a realistic and immersive experience for his audience by bringing small-town India to them.

2. When and Where Was RK Narayan Born?

RK Narayan was born on 10 October 1906 in Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu, India into an Iyer Vadama Brahmin family.

3. Which Was the First Book Published by RK Narayan?

Swami and Friends was RK Narayan's first book, published in 1930. The novel was based on several incidents from his own childhood and was semi-autobiographical. It is still one of the most recommended English readers in Indian schools.

4. What is the difference between Biography and Autobiography?

A biography is often written on account of a person's whole life, which will be framed and written by someone else. On the other hand, an autobiography is also written on account of a person's life but will be written by that person himself from his own point of view. Vedantu's website has been designed to help you find both biographical and autobiographical information in many different formats through online libraries. You can refer to the material and learn about all the great people who have marked their names in history with the help of Vedantu at the comfort of your home.

5. What are the types of Biography?

There are four classic and informative types of biographies they are historical fiction, academic, fictional academic, and prophetic biography. A historical fiction type of biography is a creative account inspired by the events of a person’s life. Academic biographies are based on documented facts and noted accomplishments of a person’s life. A fictional academic biography often tries to combine the best and interesting elements of the fictional biography (entertainment with a strong theme and storyline) and the academic biography (with factual accuracy as well). And a prophetic biography begins with retelling the regular academic approach of considering all the known facts which have been already framed.

6. Why is reading a biography really important?

Biographies help us gain insight and deep knowledge into how successful people handle crises and solve complex problems in their times. They will gradually invite us into people's lives, allowing us to observe them as they battle with challenges and make important decisions at right time. This ultimately helps the reader to greater understanding and better decision making in their own lives. Not all individuals are the same everyone has their own experience and knowledge but biographies of great people who have achieved a lot can always guide you on the right path.

7. How do students benefit from reading biographies?

Biographies help students understand the history and life experiences through another person's perspective, which may encourage them to ask more questions and learn even more. Biographies often serve as a starting point for learning more about a passion at an early age which helps them in choosing their career. Basically, while reading a biography or an autobiography, you get to learn about what an individual has been through, and more often their life experiences at every stage. Since it is believed that human life and psychology are in similarity you can easily relate with those individuals and put yourself in their shoes to understand the experience better.

8. Does reading History help us in our daily life?

Knowing the past is extremely important for any society and human being to know what has happened in their past and which person has invented or created memorable and historic moments. Past gives us insights into our evolving behavior and basic character in matters of life, love, mutuality, war, diplomacy, and peace. It provides insights in-depth understanding into the processes and events of the past and interconnects them with our current life. History serves as a Warning to avoid any mistakes that have been done in the past and gives us a second chance to live our lives even better in our present.