Wit and Humour: In colonial North India

Paper Type: Book print paper | Size: 305 mm x 203 mm
Black and white; 133 illustrations; 188 pages; Hardback
ISBN-10: 8189738186 | ISBN-13: 978-81-89738-18-1


Wit and Humour in Colonial North India: In today’s world, cartooning is becoming a contentious issue, unfortunately perceived as a deliberate attempt at demonising the ‘other’. This was not so in late 19th-century colonial India, when a fine cartoonist could summarise a welter of perspectives. The Avadh Punch, a weekly from Lucknow, under the stewardship of its formidable editor, Munshi Sajjad Husain, was published from 16 January 1877 till its closure in 1936. Virtually the first Indian newspaper to publish cartoons as we know them today, it provided a platform for some of the greatest comic writers in Urdu literature. Inspired by, and like the London Punch (1841-2002), it became a household name notable for dignity, geniality of satire and good taste. It laid the foundation of the Urdu short story and of literary journalism, and rendered the same service to the Urdu novel as The Tatler and The Spectator did to the English novel. Wit and humour as pacifist tools of devastation constituted an apt response to the situation. A thought-provoking tome, Wit and Humour in Colonial North India also presents a selection of Wilayat Ali Bambooque’s writings, and Archibald Constable’s commentary on some of the illustrations that appeared in the The Avadh Punch. The book is being widely accepted and has reached in its 3rd edition.

Mushirul  Hasan
Mushirul Hasan

Late Professor Mushirul Hasan was an internationally renowned historian, prolific author and former Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. He is presently the Director-General of the National Archives of India. Professor Hasan has published books on India’s Partition, on communalism, and on the histories of Islam in South Asia. He has authored Partners in Freedom: Jamia Millia Islamia (2006); The Avadh Punch: Wit and Humour in Colonial North India (2007) and Wit and Wisdom: Pickings from the Parsee Punch (2012); and edited Mutiny Memoirs (2009); Sarojini Naidu: Her Way with Words (2012). He was also editor of the ongoing multi-volume history of the Indian National Congress, brought out by Niyogi Books starting in 2012