Munshi Premchand (Urdu: منشی پریم چند, Hindi: मुंशी प्रेमचंद, pronounced [mʊnʃi preːm t͡ʃənd̪] ( )) (31 July 1880 – 8 October 1936) was an Indian writer famous for his modern Hindustani literature. He is one of the most celebrated writers of the Indian subcontinent, and is regarded as one of the foremost Hindustani writers of the early twentieth century. Born Dhanpat Rai Srivastav, he began writing under the pen name "Nawab Rai", but subsequently switched to "Premchand", while he is also known as "Munshi Premchand", Munshi being an honorary prefix. A novel writer, story writer and dramatist, he has been referred to as the "Upanyas Samrat" ("Emperor among Novelists") by some Hindi writers. His works include more than a dozen novels, around 250 short stories, several essays and translations of a number of foreign literary works into Hindi.
Premchand was born on 31 July 1880 in Lamahi, a village located near Varanasi (Benares). His ancestors came from a large family, which owned six bighas of land. His grandfather Gur Sahai Lal was a patwari (village accountant), and his father Ajaib Lal was a post office clerk. His mother was Anandi Devi of Karauni village, who could have been the inspiration for the character Anandi in his Bade Ghar Ki Beti. Premchand was the fourth child of Ajaib Lal and Anandi; the first two were girls who died as infants, and the third one was a girl named Suggi. His parents named him Dhanpat Rai ("the master of wealth"), while his uncle, Mahabir, a rich landowner, nicknamed him "Nawab" ("Prince"). "Nawab Rai" was the first pen name chosen by Premchand.
When he was 7 years old, Premchand began his education at a madarsa in Lalpur, located around 2½ km from Lamahi. Premchand learnt Urdu and Persian from a maulvi in the madarsa. When he was 8, his mother died after a long illness. His grandmother, who took the responsibility of raising him, died soon after. Premchand felt isolated, as his elder sister had already been married, and his father was always busy with work. His father, who was now posted at Gorakhpur, re-married, but Premchand received little affection from his step-mother. The step-mother later became a recurring theme in Premchand's works.