Premchand was born on 31 July 1880 in a village near Varanasi in India to Munshi Ajaib Lal, a clerk in the post office. His parents died when he was still very young. His mother died when he was no more than seven and his father passed away when Premchand was fifteen or sixteen, and still a student. After loosing his parents, Premchand became responsible for his step mother and his siblings born from her. Premchand was married to a girl in an arranged child marriage as then was the custom but the marriage proved to be painful for him and he left her in 1899. After that Premchand married a child widow Shivrani Devi in 1906.
After leaving his village in 1899, Premchand took up a job of a schoolmaster at a mission school in Chunar, another remote area. The salary was minimal and he was the only earning member in the family. With that negligible amount he had to support his wife, step mother, his siblings and himself. The condition became even worse when he was fired from the job and had to return to his village. After some efforts, he succeeded in getting a job of assistant master at a government school in Varanasi. He was transferred to a town near Allahabad, where he became the headmaster of a school in year 1902. After two years, he was sent to Kanpur as the deputy sub inspector of schools.