The PeopleAlchemist Edit: #theWomanAlchemist #MonthlyFeature #womanofthemonth – Sarojini Naidu
Hello, and welcome back to the #TheWomanAlchemist monthly feature.
I am continuing this year on my quest to promote/shine a light on other women, and this month is the turn of Sarojini Naidu, an absolute trailblazer.
Sarojini Naidu was a political activist, an advocate of women’s rights, and a poet. She became the first Indian woman to be president of the Indian National Congress and Indian state governor. Naidu was born in India on 13 February 1879; she was a child prodigy, entering the University of Madras at 12 and then going on to study at King’s College, London and later on, Girton College, Cambridge (early 1890s).
Naidu joined the suffragist campaign in England but was later drawn to India’s Congress movement and Mahatma Gandhi’s Noncooperation Movement.
Her political anti-British activity brought her several prison sentences in India in 1930, 1932, and 1942–43.
SAROJINI NAIDU – KEY DATES
Some notable dates and facts:
- 1904 joined the Indian National Congress
- 1905 published her first volume of poetry, The Golden Threshold
- 1912 published the second volume of poetry The Bird of Time
- 1914 became a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature
- 1917 published her last book of new poems, The Broken Wing
- 1919 gave evidence to a Select Committee in favour of women’s vote in India
- 1924 she travelled in eastern Africa and South Africa to promote the interest of Indians living there
- 1825 became the first Indian woman president of the National Congress
- 1928 published a collection of all her published poems under the title The Sceptred Flute
- 1928-29 toured North America, lecturing on the Congress movement
- 1931 accompanied Gandhi to London for the Round Table Conference for Indian–British cooperation.
- 1947 became governor of the United Provinces
- 1949 died of cardiac arrest while still governor
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAROJINI NAIDU, AND THANK YOU
Naidu’s literary life was very active. She led a famous salon in Bombay (now Mumbai) and attracted prominent Indian intellectuals.
Naidu wrote in English following the tradition of British Romanticism, for which she was sometimes challenged to reconcile with her Indian nationalist politics.
Her poetry earned her the nickname of ‘The Nightingale of India’ (or ‘Bharat Kokila’ by Mahatma Gandhi )due to the colour of her poetry, imagery and lyrical quality. Naidu’s poetry includes different themes like patriotism, romance, and tragedy.
‘In the Bazaars of Hyderabad’ (included in the volume of poetry The Birds of Time published in 1912) remains one of her most famous poems.
This was a woman who stood behind her convictions, not just with words but with action, whilst writing incredible, touching and poignant poetry at a time when it wasn’t common or easy, and she broke down barriers.
If that is not worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.
A few of the previous #TheWomanAlchemist blogs celebrating women writers:
- Virginia Woolf
- Jane Austen
- Agatha Christie
- Daphne Du Maurier
- Mary Wollstonecraft
- Pam Grout
- Simone de Beauvoir