Maulana Hasrat Mohani was born at Mohan, District Unnao (UP) in 1875. From Government High School, Fatehpur, he passed the High School Examination with merit, obtaining a scholarship and then graduated from Aligarh College in 1903 with distinction. During his college days he began to profess progressive and independent views and openly opposed British domination over India. It is noteworthy that due to his independent views he was expelled thrice from Aligarh College.
In 1904 from Aligarh, he started his celebrated journal Urdu-i-Mu`alla that was the best literary-cum-political weekly to which celebrated writers of the country used to contribute. When an article, British Policy in Egypt, published in it was regarded illegal and seditious, the Maulana was asked by the Indian Government to disclose the name of the author. But he declined to do so and preferred to undergo himself one year’s rigorous imprisonment in addition to fine of Rs. 500. He was the first person to raise his voice for freedom of the press when even the Congress leaders used to pass resolutions in support of British rule in India.
Maulana Hasrat’s Urdu-i-Mu`alla was shifted from Aligarh to Cawnpore where he had migrated and settled down for the rest of his life. He was an excellent poet and served the cause of poetry through his journal. He popularized `Ghalib’ by publishing an authentic but cheap key of Ghalib’s Urdu Diwan. He wrote on the principles of criticism and the art of poetry in his “Nuqat-i-Sukhan” and showed the correct attitude to budding poets and writers by his enlightened criticism of literature. He also brought out the forgotten poets out of their oblivion, by publishing their works in this journal. He created a good taste for poetry among the people by publishing the selected works of Urdu poets. In this respect, he may be termed the prototype of Baba-i-Urdu Maulvi Abdul Haq.