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Early Manipuri literature mainly consisted of folk and religious poetry.  Some of the earliest prose works in Manipuri are Numit Kappa (10th century), Naotinkhon Phambal Kaba (16-17th century), Lethak Lekharol (17th century) and Pantoibi Kangul (17th century).  Govindram Nunganba is considered one of the leading Manipuri scholar-poets of the 18th century, whose Takhel Ngamba is a pioneering historical ballad in Manipuri. 

Khwairakpam Chaoba Singh (1895-1950), Lamabam Kamal Singh (1899-1935) and Hijam Anganghal Singh (1892-1943) are the three most important Manipuri poets of the 20th century.  Besides being a poet, Hijam Anganghal Singh is a well-known essayist and dramatist, renowned for his magnum opus Khamba Thoibe Sheireng (1940), which is a poem of 39,000 lines considered to be a 'national' epic of the Manipuris.  Khwairakpam Chaoba Singh is one of the best-known writers of modern Manipuri literature. His historical novel Lavangalata (1939) is considered as an outstanding work in Manipuri. His other prose works are Vakhalgi Icel, Vakhal, Phidam, Kannaba Va and Chhatramacha.  Lamabam Kamal Singh's Madhavi (1930) is recognised as the first modern Manipuri novel. His collection of poems called Lai Pareng (1931) has been acclaimed to be 'the most significant poetical works of this century'.

Arambam Dorendrajit Singh (1907-1944) is another pioneer poet and dramatist whose works include three dramas, viz. Miorang Thoibi, Bhagyachandra and Kaurav Parajay and two epic poems, viz. Kansa Badha and Subhadra Haran.  L. Samarendra Singh (b.1928) is one of the forerunners of modern Manipuri poetry. He is renowned for his poetic collections Wa Amata Hiage Telanga, Mamang Leikia Thambal Satle and Khun Amagi Vari.

H. Guno Singh (b.1927) is an acclaimed short-story writer in Manipuri. His important works include Khudol, Langjim Manghrabi Kishi, Laman, Aroiba Paodam and Aikhoigi Tada. He also translated Sukumar Sen's History of Bengali Literature into Manipuri.

Pacha Meetei (1940-1990) set a new trend in Manipuri novel by introducing contemporary social problems in place of the romantic and passionate atmosphere prevalent in the Manipuri novel in the first half of the 20th century. He is acclaimed for his novel Na Tathiba Ahal Ama.


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