David Garnett

Date of birth: 
09 Mar 1892
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
17 Feb 1981
Location of death: 

David Garnett, the son of Edward Garnett and Constance Black, was well-connected in literary circles and with Socialist and revolutionary European exiles in his youth. Garnett was a writer and publisher, and involved with the Bloomsbury Group. He was editor of the New Statesman from 1932 to 1934.

Garnett met his first Indian while preparing for the London Matriculation at the London Tutorial College in Red Lion Square. He met a young Bengali, Dutt (Sukhsagar Datta), who introduced him to his friends, Ashutosh Mitter and Niranjan Pal (playwright and son of Bepin Chandra Pal). Garnett became close friends with these young Indians, meeting them at various times in London and taking them down to his family's home in Caerne. At some point after 1907, Dutt took Garnett to India House in Highgate, where he was introduced to V. D. Savarkar and spoke to Madan Lal Dhingra briefly.

After the murder of Curzon Wyllie in July 1909, Savarkar asked Garnett to publish Dhingra's statement, which Garnett passed on to Robert Lloyd at the Daily News where it appeared the next morning. Attracted by Savarkar's 'extraordinary personal magnetism', Garnett would meet him regularly, and when Savarkar was arrested and put into Brixton Gaol, Garnett visited him there. Garnett takes credit for hatching a plan to help Savarkar escape from prison, enlisting the help of Indian exiles in Paris. The plan was foiled when his family found out about it, despite Maud Gonne's attempts to warn Garnett. When Savarkar returned to India, Garnett severed all ties with him.

Involved in events: 

Aborted attempt to help V. D. Savarkar escape from Brixton Gaol, 1910

Published works: 

The Golden Echo (London: Chatto & Windus, 1953)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Daily News

New Statesman

Secondary works: 

Partridge, Frances, ‘Garnett, David (1892–1981)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009) [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31138]

Archive source: 

Papers, University of Texas, Austin

Correspondence with Constance and Edward Garnett, Eton College, Berkshire

Correspondence, King's College Archive Centre, Cambridge

Correspondence, University of Reading