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  • Printing also gave rise to demand of writers.
  • As more and more people began to read, they wanted to see glimpses of their own lives in the books they read.
  • New literary forms like literature, lyrics, short stories, essays about socio political matters also entered the picture.
  • With setting up of new printing presses, visual images could be easily reproduced in large numbers, this gave rise to PAINTINGS.
  • Painters like Raja Ravi Varma produced images for mass circulation.
  • Even the poor began buying , Cheap Prints and Calendars to decorate the walls of their houses.
  • By 1870s, caricatures and cartoons began to be published in newspapers and journals commenting about socio political issues.


  • Women began reading enormously in middle class homes.
  • Liberal husbands and fathers began educating women in their homes.
  • Women began going to schools set up in cities and towns after the mid 19th century.
  • Journals began to be published highlighting the importance of educating women.
  • Some Journals even carried syllabus and suitable reading material which could be used for home based schooling.
  • Not all families were liberal.
  • Conservative Hindus believed a literate girl would be widowed and Muslims feared educated women would be corrupted by reading Urdu romances.
  • In 19th century, Rashsundari Debi , a young married girl in a very orthodox household, learnt to read in the secrecy of her kitchen.
  • She wrote her autobiography AMAR JIBAN in bengali language, which was published in 1876.  
  • From 1860s, bengali women like Kailashbashini Debi began writing experiences of women.
  • They wrote about how women were imprisoned at home, kept in ignorance, forced to do hard domestic labour and treated unjustly by family.
  • In the 1880s, Tarabai Shinde and Pandita Ramabai from Maharashtra wrote with passionate anger about miserable lives of upper caste Hindu women, mainly widows.
  • Hindi printing began much later in 1870s, after Urdu, Tamil, Bengali and Marathi print culture had already developed.
  • In the 20th century, journals written and edited by women became very popular.
  • The journals discussed issues like Women’s education, widowhood, widow remarriage and national movement.
  • Some journals discussed fashion and brought entertainment .
  • In Punjab too, literature was widely printed from early 20th century.
  • Ram Chaddha published ISTRI DHARM VICHAR to teach women how to be obedient wives.
  • Khalsa Tract Society also published booklets about how to be good wives, they were written in the form of dialogues.
  • In Bengal, an area in central Calcutta- the BATTALA was devoted to printing of popular books.
  • In Battala, one could find cheap editions of religious scriptures and literature.

Cover of Amar Jiban by Rashsundari Debi - Teachoo.jpg



  • In the 19th century, very cheap small books were brought to markets.
  • Public libraries were set up expanding the access to books.
  • Libraries were set up in cities, towns and at times in prosperous villages.
  • For rich patrons, setting up a library was a way of acquiring prestige.
  • From late 19th century, issues of caste discrimination also began to be written.
  • Jyotiba Phule, Maratha Pioneer of ‘ low caste’ movements, wrote about injustices of caste system in his GULAMGIRI(1871). 
  • In the 20th century, B.R. Ambedkar in Maharashtra and
  •  E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker( Periyar) wrote powerfully on caste . Their writings were read all over India.
  • Kashibaba, a Kanpur millworker, wrote and published CHHOTE AUR BADE KA SAWAL, in 1938 to show links between caste and class exploitation.
  • Poems of Sudarshan Chakr, a Kanpur millworker, were published in SACCHI KAVITAYAN in 1955.

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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 13 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.