Mirza Ghalib was a well known Urdu poet. Mirza Asadullah Beg Khan - known as Mirza Ghalib to posterity was born in the city of Agra, of parents with Turkish aristocratic ancestry, probably on December 27th, 1797. Ghalib lost his father and uncle when he was very young. His mother took care of her two sons on a meagre pension amount.Ghalib was married at the age of 13 to Nawab Ali Baksh Khan's daughter Umro Begum.
His wife gave birth to seven children but none of them survived. Later Ghalib adopted a nephew but even he died at a very young age.
These incidents took a toll on Ghalib and it was during this period that he created his best pieces of poetry. Ghalib was extremely liberal in his views even though he was a Shia Muslim. He believed in humanity and was a genuine and morally upright human being. He was loved by both Hindus as well as Muslims and was acknowledged by all as a poet who set high standards.
Ghalib was self-taught. He never had a master or guru but learnt everything on his own; He first started writing in Persian and later in Urdu. Although Ghalib wrote in Persian, he is more famous for his ghazals written in Urdu. Ghalib participated actively in many ‘Mushairas’or poetry sessions in Lucknow and Calcutta and his flair for poetry were noticed during these sessions. Ghalib was very fond of drinking and gambling and this brought about his downfall. He had a controversial affair with a courtesan who was in love with him because of his poetry.
Ghalib was given the position of Court Poet in the palace of King Bahadur Shah. The king was very fond of Mirza’s poetry and ghazals. Ghalib’s closest rival was poet Zauq, tutor of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the then emperor of India. The two had their tiffs with poetry in front of the king. However, there was mutual respect for each other’s talent. The duo admired and respected the work of Meer Taqi Meer who was known to be one of the greatest Urdu poets of 18th century.
Ghalib and his ghazals expressed philosophy, the travails of life and many such subjects, thus vastly expanding the scope of ghazal. Mirza Ghalib is also famous for the beautiful letters that he wrote. His letters were simple, direct and precise .The letters often addressed current social, economic and political situations of the time. Ghalib’s most noted works include a 10 volume collection of poems called 'Diwan - i- Ghalib', followed by his letters in ' Urdu - i - Hindi' and ' Urdu - i- Muallah'. His famous works of prose include 'Naam - i - Ghalib', 'Latief - i - Ghalib' and 'Daupshe Kawaiyam'. He suffered from drinking problems and financial difficulties and finally died at the age of 72 years in Delhi on February 15th, 1869.