Sunlight on a Broken Column – Book

Series namePublications

Attia Hosain published her novel ‘Sunlight on a Broken Column’ in 1961 with Chatto and Windus in England. We have digitised the introduction and the first two chapters of the book. ‘Sunlight on a Broken Column’ is considered by some critics to be partly semi-autobiographical. Hosain traces the life of Laila, who grows up in a traditional Muslim taluqdari (feudal) household in old Lucknow. Laila has to confront the changes that are occurring within her own home, Ashiana, and in the world at large. The novel is divided into three parts and explores themes of family, rebellion and social and political change as India is on the verge of Partition. As Lakshmi Holmström states in her essay “Attia Hosain: her life and work”, which was published in the ‘Indian Review of Books’, “A broad theme of the changing Muslim world of the1930s and 40s in India emerges in the novel. It portrays on the one hand, an aspect of social change within the family, its modernization, ‘westernization’, and the cautious and limited liberation of its women. At the same time there is a larger historical theme of the political choices that a family such as hers faced.”

Read the first two chapters

Date of Creation / Publication1961
CreatorChatto & Windus
Associated Person/ OrganisationHosain, Attia
Collection and Reference NumberAttia Hosain Collection (GB 2661 AH)
Catalogue NumberAH/PUB/2
CopyrightThe Creator and/ or associated person or organisation where applicable
Access to originalsThe originals are located with the Literary Estate of Attia Hosain.
Series notesAttia Hosain began her career as a journalist in India by writing for newspapers such as 'The Statesman' and 'The Pioneer' in Calcutta. She also published various short stories in periodicals in India. It was after moving to England, in 1947, however, that she began to write professionally and published two books with Chatto and Windus: the collection of short stories 'Phoenix Fled' (1953) and the novel 'Sunlight on a Broken Column' (1961).
Collection notesThe material from the Attia Hosain collection consists of items relating to her publications, such as extracts from her novel and her collection of short stories, biographical information such as photographs, and miscellaneous items such as transcripts from BBC broadcasts she made and letters.