Urdu literature has a long and colorful history that is inextricably tied to the development of that very language, Urdu, in which it is written. While it tends to be heavily dominated by poetry, the range of expression achieved in the voluminous library of a few major verse forms, especially the ghazal and nazm, has led to its continued development and expansion into other styles of writing, including that of the short story, or afsana. It is today most popular in the countries of India and Pakistan and is finding interest in foreign countries primarily through South Asians.
Urdu literature may be said to find its provenance some time around the 14th century in Mughal India amongst the sophisticated gentry of Persian courts. The presence of the Muslim gentry in a largely Hindu India, while clearly acknowledged, did not so nearly dominate the consciousness of the Urdu poet as much as did the continuing traditions of Islam and Persia. The very color of the Urdu language, with a vocabulary almost evenly split between Sanskrit-derived Prakrit and Arabo-Persian words, was a reflection of the newness of cultural amalgamation and yet the insistence on retaining what was best and most beautiful about the lands of Afghanistan and Persia.
A man who exercised great influence on the initial growth of not only Urdu literature, but the language itself (which only truly took shape as distinguished from both Persian and proto-Hindi around the 14th century) was the famous Amir Khusro. Credited, indeed, with the very systematization of northern Indian classical music, known as Hindustani, he wrote works in both Persian and Hindvi, frequently engaging in ingenious mixes of the two. While the couplets that come down from him in are representative of a latter-Prakrit Hindi bereft of Arabo-Persian vocabulary, his influence on court viziers and writers must have been mighty, for but a century after his passing Quli Qutub Shah was seen to take to a language that may be safely said to be Urdu.