Journal of South Asian Literature. v 11, V. 11 ( 1976) p. 1.


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NISSIM EZEKIEL: A BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

Nissim Ezekiel was born in December 1924 in Bombay of Jewish (Bene-Israel) parents, both devoted to education -- his father, who died in 1969, as Professor of Botany and Zoology and Principal of several colleges; and his mother, who died in 1974, as Principal of a school started by herself more than twenty-five years ago. Mr. Ezekiel's career, however, has been more variegated and indicates the broad range of experience behind his poetry and other writings.

Educated mainly in missionary institutions of Bombay, he held a distinguished academic record as a student of Wilson College. While holding the Witson College Fellowship and studying for the M.A., he worked as a part-time teacher at the Hansraj Morarji Public School, Andheri, Bombay. He won the R. K. Lagu Prize for standing first in Bombay University in his M.A. examination in English literature in 1947. As an undergraduate, he came under the influence of M. N. Roy and was an active member of his Radical Democratic Party until 1947. In 1947-48, he taught English Literature at Khalsa College, Bombay, and published literary articles and reviews in a number of Indian newspapers and periodicals.

In November 1948, he went to England with the help of Mr. E. Alkazi. The three-and-a-half years there were spent in pursuits varying from theatre, cinema and art to psychology and modern Indian culture. He studied philosophy at Birkbeck College under C. E. M. Joad and others. His predominant interest, however, was literary. His first book of poems, A Time To Change^ was published by the Fortune Press, London, in 1952, the year he left Englandc

He earned his passage home as deck-scrubber and coal-carrier on an English cargo ship and received the certificate of Able Seaman. His occupations have continued to be varied, the accent being always on writing.

Soon after his return from England, he joined the editorial staff of The Illustrated Weekly of India and worked there for about two years. He broadcast regularly for ten years (1952-62) on art and literature for the Bombay station of A11 India Radio. In November 1952, he married Daisy Jacob; and in December 1953 he published his second book of verse, Sixty Poems. In 1954, he became associated with Shilpi Advertising, a Sarabhai concern, as copywriter. He became the first editor of the then bi-monthly Quest in 1955 and continued his association with it for several years as reviews editor. He went to America for four months in 1957 as manager of Shilpi. There, on a grant from the Farfield Foundation, he visited some American universities. He left Shilpi in 1959 and returned to college



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