Born in 1925 in Delhi, Professor A.A. Ansari was educated at Delhi, Aligarh and Oxford. He started teaching at the Department of English at Aligarh Muslim University in 1947 and soon distinguished himself as a teacher-scholar-critic. In 1967 he was appointed Professor and Head of this Department.
The English literary world recognized him when he published his book on William Blake, Arrows of Intellect (1965). This book elicited strong words of commendation from Blake scholars, notably from scholars of such eminence as Northrop Frye and Mark Schorer. Five years later it was reprinted in the U.S.A. Professor Ansari was invited to contribute to the Presentation Volume for the distinguished Blake scholar, S. Foster Damon. Besides Blake, Professor Ansari's abiding passion has been none other than Shakespeare.
Professor Ansari brought out a critical journal, The Aligarh Journal of English Studies, of which he is the founder-editor. This is a bi-annual that has been regularly publishing significant critical and research articles among which Shakespeare studies get a special place. His contributions are highly significant for their consistent examination of Shakespeare plays from an existentialist viewpoint.
Professor Ansari has written on a variety of subjects in English and also in his mother-tongue, Urdu. Not unlike other notable scholars of English in India, his devotion to English studies has not diminished his abiding interest in modern and classical literary heritage in India - Urdu, Arabic and Persian in his case. His critical studies of the major Urdu poets, Ghalib and Iqbal, have given a textual orientation to Urdu literary criticism and earned him an eminent place among Urdu critics. For his book Iqbal Ki Terah Nazmen (Thirteen Poems of Iqbal) the Government of Pakistan honoured him, in the year of the poet's birth centenary, by conferring on him the President's Centenary Gold Medal. For his critical writings in Urdu some prestigious literary awards have been conferred on him in India, including the highest literary award by the Indian Academy of Letters, called the 'Sahitya Academy.'