An important book on Hyderabadi women’s writing is Amena Tahseen’s “Hyderabad mein Urdu ka Nisaai Adab” (“Women’s Writing in Urdu from Hyderabad,” 2017). Prof. Tahseen works at MANUU, Hyderabad, and has written many books on women’s movements and Urdu literature and criticism.
Hyderabadi women writers have been ignored in Urdu literary historiography, which tends to be overwhelmingly north Indian and male-centric. Social reform and women’s progress are also usually considered the exclusive preserve of British India, while the princely states are seen to be frozen forever in time.
Prof. Tahseen’s work situates women’s writing as a distinct body of work in the larger context of Hyderabad’s political, social, cultural, and linguistic history. She also outlines the contribution of literary associations, journals, and magazines to advancing women’s writing in Hyderabad. In the process, Prof. Tahseen works towards developing a discourse of Hyderabadi women’s writings in Urdu.
Her book also contains essays by other contributors about diverse genres of Hyderabadi women’s writings, which include humour, essays, and mystical poetry, apart from the usual gamut of poetry and prose.
The third part of this book, for which I am most grateful as a researcher, is a bibliography of Hyderabadi women’s writing in Urdu. This initiative unearths many texts that have gone out of print and restores to literary historiography many women writers who have been totally forgotten.
Nazia Akhtar is a research scholar