Qurrat-ul-Ain Haider January 20, 1928 â€“ August 21, 2007) was an influential Indian Urdu novelist and short story writer, an academic, and a journalist. One of the most outstanding literary names in Urdu literature, she is most known for her magnum opus, Aag Ka Darya (River of Fire), a novel first published in Urdu in 1959, from Lahore, Pakistan, that stretches from the 4th century BC to post partition of India. Popularly known as “Ainee Apa” among her friends and admirers, she was the daughter of writer and pioneers of Urdu short story writing Sajjad Haidar Yildarim (1880â€“1943). Her mother, Nazar Zahra, who wrote at first as Bint-i-Nazrul Baqar and later as Nazar Sajjad Hyder (1894â€“1967), was also a novelist and protegee of Muhammadi Begam and her husband Syed Mumtaz Ali, who published her first novel. She received the 1967 Sahitya Akademi Award in Urdu for Patjhar Ki Awaz (Short stories), 1989 Jnanpith Award for Akhire Shab Ke Humsafar, and the highest award of the Sahitya Akademi, India’s National Academy of Letters, the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship in 1994. She also received the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India in 2005
Born on January 20, 1926 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, (though her family were from Nehtaur, UP), Qurrat-ul-Ain Hyder is one of the most celebrated of Urdu fiction writers. She was named after a notable Iranian poet Qurrat-ul-Ain Tahira. Qurratul Ain, translated literally means ‘solace of the eyes’ and is used as a term of endearment. A trend setter in Urdu fiction, she began writing at a time when the novel was yet to take deep roots as a serious genre in the poetry-oriented world of Urdu literature. She instilled in it a new sensibility and brought into its fold strands of thought and imagination hitherto unexplored. She is widely regarded as the “Grande Dame” of Urdu literature. After graduating from Lucknow University’s Isabella Thoburn College, she moved to Pakistan in 1947, then lived in England for some time before finally returning to India in 1960. She lived in Bombay for nearly twenty years before shifting to Noida near New Delhi, where she had been staying till her demise. She never married. She migrated along with her family members to Pakistan in 1947 at the time of independence, but some years later decided to go back to India, where she had since lived. She worked as a journalist to earn her living but kept publishing short stories, literary translations and novels regularly, by now almost thirty in number.She was Managing Editor of the magazine Imprint, Bombay (1964â€“68), and a member of the editorial staff of the Illustrated Weekly of India (1968â€“75). Her books have been translated into English and other languages Hyder also served as a guest lecturer at the universities of California, Chicago, Wisconsin, and Arizona. She was visiting professor at the Urdu Department at Aligarh Muslim University, where her father had earlier been a registrar. She was also Professor Emeritus, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan Chair at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.