P.N. APPUSWAMY - IYER
PN Appuswamy - science story writers
Son of A Y Narayana Iyer and Laxmi Ammal In 1917, a young Lawyer called P N Appuswami Iyer, then living in Mylapore, Madras
P N Appuswami Iyer (who came to be popularly known in the world of Tamil and English letters as ‘Pena-Appuswami’) can legitimately be described as a great pioneer and as an Apostle in the world of Science and Scientific Writing in Tamil. He had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, educationist,
author of over 100 books in English and Tamil, writer of feature articles and special articles and scripts numbering more than four thousand, Editor of two magazines Tamil Nanban (over 10 years) and Kalaimagal (over 10 years), general editor of several books on science both in English and Tamil, a translator of several classical works in the field of science and literature and more particularly the Sangam Classics, a brilliant broadcaster and above all a great teacher of Tamil, English and Sanskrit literature. He was a true Mahamahopadhyaya in every sense of the word.
‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ was born on 31st December 1891 as the elder son of Sri A Y Narayana Iyer of Perungulam Village near Srivaikundam in Tirunelveli District. His mother was Laxmi Ammal from Pathamadi Village in the same district. His paternal uncle was Shri Madhaviah who was one of the early pioneers in the field of Tamil fiction and novels.
He was the author of one of the early novels famously known as ‘Padmavati Charitram’. ‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ had his schooling in Central Hindu School in Tirunelveli. After completing his Intermediate Course in Hindu College, Tirunelveli, he moved to Presidency College in Madras in 1908. He took his bachelor’s degree (with Chemistry, English and Sanskrit) in 1911. In 1913, he took his bachelor’s degree in law from Law College, Madras.
‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ produced several text books in Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Zoology from the High School level to the college level (B.A /B Sc). He authored several popular books in Science (both in Tamil and English) for the children and the common masses. Most of them were published by Higginbotham’s, Madras. Some of the most popular titles from 1925 to 1955 were
The Wonders of Electricity, Radio and Broadcasting, X-Rays, The story of the Atom. All these titles were awarded first prizes for academic and scientific excellence by the Madras University of British India. ‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ won the UNESCO prize for his book ‘Let Us Look At The Sky’. He also produced a book in Tamil titled ‘Payanathin Kadhai’ for the Neo-Literates under the Adult Education Programme which won the Central Government Award for effective mass communication.
As an Eminent Educationist, he served the Madras University as a Member of the Board of Studies in Tamil from 1934 to 1952. He served the All India Radio as Education Advisor (With particular reference to Broadcasts meant for Elementary and Middle School Levels) for nearly 9 years. He served in distinction at the Southern Language Trust as Director of the Translation
Training Course which was run for many years in collaboration with the Government of India. He was a frequent contributor to The Hindu, The Mail, Indian Express, PEN Bombay and Vishwa Bharathi on History, Literature, Art and Science. Between 1935 and 1955, ‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ wrote more than 500 articles
in Tamil relating to all fields of knowledge and modern science. In order to furnish illustrations and sketch drawings for his articles in Kalaimagal magazine and Dinamani Newspaper, he had requisitioned the services of whole time painter and artist for the purpose on a monthly salary of Rs.150/-. In collaboration with A G Venkatachari,
‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ created two forums for the promotion of science called ‘Vignana Peravai’ and ‘Vignana Medai. Through these organizations, ‘Pe Naa Appuswami’ used to deliver popular public lectures in Tamil under the titles like ‘For the Husband, For the Poor Farmer, For the New Trader, For Primary School Teachers, For the College Professors, For the Students and For Those in Public Administration’