Harindranath Chattopadhyaya


Fitzwilliam Hall Cambridge, CB2 1RB
United Kingdom
52° 11' 58.8408" N, 0° 7' 11.7516" E
Date of birth: 
02 Apr 1898
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
23 Jun 1990
Location of death: 
Mumbai, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1919
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Harindranath Chattopadhyaya was the son of Aghorenath Chattopadhyaya and younger brother of Sarojini Naidu and Virendranath Chattopadhyaya. Aghorenath had studied at Edinburgh University in the nineteenth century. Harindranath's parents were Bengalis who had settled in Hyderabad; Harindranath was born in the Deccan in 1898. Encouraged by his family, Harindranath began to write verse as a child and also enjoyed acting.

He married Kamaladevi, a Madrasi widow in 1919, having been introduced by a younger sister, Suhasini. Shortly after their marriage, Harindranath sailed to England, leaving behind his wife (who was later to join him). Harindranath had published poems and written plays in India before he arrived in London, and was helped to settle in Britain by friends of his famous elder sister, Sarojini. He initially lodged in Gower Street and sent his poems to Cambridge in order to gain admission as a research scholar. Harindranath successfully gained admission into Fitzwilliam Hall and took up research work on 'William Blake and the Sufis'. During his time as a student in Britain, Harindranath's poems were published in the Indian Magazine (Journal of the National Indian Association) and Britain and India (Journal of the Theosophical-influenced Britain and India Association). He corresponded with Laurence Binyon about publishing further anthologies of poems in London.

As the Civil Disobedience movement gained momentum in India, Harindranath and Kamaladevi decided to return to India and Harindranath abandoned his Cambridge degree. They returned via Europe to visit with his elder brother, the revolutionary Virendranath Chattopadhyaya (Chatto) and also met with Madame Cama.

In 1929, a publication entitled Five Plays was produced by Fowler Wright in London. The book printed praise inside its front cover from Rabindranath Tagore, Alice Meynell and George Russell (AE) (for Harindranath's poetry). The playlets (adapted from Hindu mythology) were introduced by S. Fowler Wright, who compared Harindranath Chattopadhyaya to Joseph Conrad. Harindranath's play, 'Tukaram' had been performed in the Little Theatre, London, in 1928. Harindranath maintained a successful career as poet, playwright and actor upon his return to India. He died in 1990.

Involved in events: 

'At Home' for Britain and India Association at 7 Southampton Street, WC1, where Harindranath Chattopadhyaya gave a recital of his poems, March 1920

Harindranath was in the cast for the Indian Art and Dramatic Society (Union of East and West) performances of Rabindranath Tagore's 'Autumn Festival' and 'The Post Office', 6 March 1920

Published works: 

Five Plays (London: Fowler Wright, 1929)

Life and Myself (Bombay: Nalanda, 1948)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Review of Tukaram performance at Little Theatre (1928) available in Cecil Madden Collection [1963/W/5], V&A Theatre Museum

Indian Magazine and Review, 669, October 1929 (Five Plays)


Letter to Laurence Binyon, from Cambridge, 13 June 1921


Chattopadhyaya thanks Binyon for his remarks on the manuscript of poems he recently sent. Chattopadhyaya explains how he gained admission at Cambridge and his desire to get his poems published in London (hopefully with Binyon's recommendation to a publisher) to appease his Cambridge mentors and family in India.


The Publication of a Volume of Poetry, dear Mr Binyon, would at least mean for me an extra qualification and for them a sort of assurance that, after all, I am really “not quite an incapable sort of fellow”. One does require some sort of clamour here, +, although it does go against my grain to cheapen my soul’s expression, however poor, to this extent, I feel, however, that I must do so and make a sacrifice for the sake of those who are dependent on me, and to whom I am to go back having achieved some sort of recommendation from people here.. which, as you know, counts a great deal in India!


A young Indian poet, who had reasonable success already in India and had many connections through his published sister, Sarojini Naidu, is interacting with a British establishment figure as he still feels the need to publish in Britain and use the connection of a British individual rather than say the contacts of his sister or other Indian relations.

Archive source: 

Letter to Laurence Binyon, June 1921, Loan 103 (Laurence Binyon Collection), Volume 2, Manuscript Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras