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New Forms of Publications

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We have a hard time imagining a world without printed stuff. Print can be found in books, journals, newspapers, and prints of great paintings, as well as in everyday items such as theatrical programs, official circulars, calendars, diaries, ads, and street corner theatre posters. We read printed literature, view printed images, read newspapers for news, and keep track of public arguments in print. We often take the world of print for granted, forgetting that there was a period before it. We may not realize it, but print has a long history that has affected our current reality.

Arrival of the Printing Press in India

In 1556, St. Paul’s College in Goa established India’s first printing press. Father Gaspar Caleza mentioned a ship carrying a printing press sailing from Portugal to Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia) to boost missionary work in Abyssinia in a letter to St. Ignatius of Loyola dated 30 April 1556. This printing press was not permitted to leave India due to a variety of issues. As a result, printing operations began in Goa in 1556, under the direction of Joao De Bustamante. A professional printer was dispatched to accompany the printing press and, with the help of an Indian assistant, set it up and started it up. The first printed publications in India were not books, but theses known as Conclusoes, which were loose papers presenting disputed issues among individuals enrolled in St. Paul’s College priestly training. 

New Forms of Publication

Printing piqued people’s interest in new types of writing. People wanted to see their own lives, experiences, emotions, and relationships reflected in what they read as more people learned to read. The novel quickly took on distinct Indian forms and characteristics. Lyrics, short stories, and essays about social and political issues are among the new literary forms that have entered the world of reading.

A new visual culture in the form of pictures may be easily replicated in multiple copies with the establishment of an increasing number of printing presses. Raja Ravi Varma created images for broad distribution. Poor wood engravers who manufactured woodblocks set up shop near letterpresses, and print businesses hired them. These prints influenced common perceptions of modernity and tradition, religion and politics, as well as society and culture. Caricatures and cartoons began to appear in journals and newspapers in the 1870s. Some drawings mocked educated Indians’ obsession with Western tastes and clothing, while others voiced apprehension about social change. Nationalists were mocked by imperial caricatures, and imperial rule was mocked by nationalist drawings.

Women and Print

Women’s lives and sentiments began to be written in a more vivid and powerful manner. As a result, women’s reading expanded dramatically in middle-class households. When women’s schools were established in cities and towns after the mid-nineteenth century, liberal husbands and dads began educating their wives at home and sending them to school. Many magazines started publishing articles written by women that explained why women should be educated.

Conservative Hindus feared that a literate female would be widowed, while Muslims thought that reading Urdu romances would corrupt educated women. Rebellious women have disregarded such restrictions on occasion. Rashsundari Devi, a young married girl from a strict Bengali family, learned to read in the privacy of her kitchen in the early nineteenth century. She later wrote Amar Jiban, an autobiography that was published in 1876. It was the first full-length autobiography in Bengali to be published.

Women Writers

Since social reforms and novels had piqued people’s curiosity about women’s lives and emotions, they were curious to hear what women had to say about their own experiences. From the 1860s onwards, a few Bengali women, such as Kailashbashini Debi, penned books describing how women were imprisoned at home, kept in the dark, compelled to do arduous domestic labor, and treated cruelly by the very people they served. Tarabai Shinde and Pandita Ramabai, both from present-day Maharashtra, wrote vehemently about the plight of upper-caste Hindu women, particularly widows, in the 1880s. Ramabai’s works were published in Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, and English. Her final posthumous endeavor was a Marathi translation of the complete Bible.

Hindi Printing

By the 1870s, a significant portion of it was devoted to women’s education. Journals created for and occasionally edited by women became immensely popular in the early twentieth century. Women’s education, widowhood, widow remarriage, and the national movement were among the topics they debated. Comparable folk literature was widely printed in Punjab beginning in the early twentieth century. 

To teach ladies how to be dutiful wives, Ram Chadha published the best-selling Istri Dharm Vichar, and so did The Khalsa Tract Society. In Bengal, the Battala, a district in central Calcutta, was dedicated to the production of popular novels. Many of these publications were lavishly decorated with woodcuts and colored lithographs by the late nineteenth century. Battala publications were delivered to women’s houses by peddlers, allowing them to read them in their spare time.

Important Acts & developments concerning Press during the British rule

  1. The Portuguese constructed the first printing press in 1556.
  2. James Augustus Hicky founded India’s first newspaper, Calcutta General Advertiser, or The Bengal Gazette, in 1780. He is known as the “Father of Indian Press.”
  3. Hickey’s Gazette is another name for the Bengal Gazette.
  4. In 1782, the government acquired control of this journal.

FAQs on New Forms of Publication

Question 1: What is platen?


The platen is a board that is pressed against the back of the paper to receive the impression from the type in letter press printing. It used to be a wooden board, but it was later replaced with steel.

Question 2: Describe the woodblock printing.


  1. The oldest form of printing was woodblock printing.
  2. It was created in three countries: China, Japan, and Korea.
  3. This was a handwriting system.
  4. Books were printed in China using this technology from AD 594 onwards by rubbing paper against the inked surface of woodblocks.
  5. The traditional Chinese ‘accordion book’ was folded and stitched at the side since both sides of the thin, porous sheet could not be printed.
  6. The elegance of calligraphy could be replicated with surprising accuracy by highly talented craftsmen.

Question 3: Which book was written by Kashibaba and what was its theme?


Chote Aur Bade Ka Sawal was written and published in 1938 by Kashibaba, a Kanpur mill worker, to demonstrate the links between caste and class exploitation.

Question 4: What type of books were written by Kailashbashini Debi?


Kailashbashini Debi, a Bengali writer, authored works about women’s experiences, such as how they were imprisoned at home, kept in the dark, and forced to do harsh domestic labour, among other things.

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Last Updated : 13 Mar, 2023
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