Aamer Hussein was born and brought up in Karachi, Pakistan in 1955. His father, Ahmed Hussein settled in Karachi, his family home, after completing his studies at Oxford and Aligarh in the early 1940s. He married Sabiha Malik, Aamer Hussein’s mother, in 1948.
Hussein grew up bi-lingual amongst a privileged English-speaking minority, and was educated at an international school. Although he spoke his native Urdu growing up, Hussein’s grandmother in India refined his language skills. This augmented his appreciation of contemporary Urdu literature. At fifteen years old, Hussein left Karachi and flew to London via Bombay with his mother and sisters to join his father who had already moved to Britain. Not having officially completed his secondary education, Hussein spent his teenage years in London.
He embraced three vividly different cultural contexts, the upper class Karachi of his parents, the feudal India of his maternal grandparents, and his own adopted London. Being culturally inquisitive by nature, it was not hard for the young Hussein to find his feet in the multicultural metropolis. Hussein left his undergraduate degree midway, and travelled to Italy and Spain, learning three new languages in his early twenties before deciding to return to higher education. After a short period working in the banking industry, Hussein returned to his studies. He graduated from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London aged 25, having read Urdu, Persian, and History.