Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy

Other names: 

Shahid Suhrawardy


Oxford, OX1 3BQ
United Kingdom
51° 43' 26.2992" N, 1° 16' 30.414" W
Date of birth: 
24 Oct 1890
City of birth: 
Midnapore, Bengal
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
03 Mar 1965
Location of death: 
Karachi, Pakistan

As a student at Oxford, Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy helped Robert Bridges (poet laureate) select the 'oriental' poems for The Spirit of the Man (London: Longmans, 1915). On 29 November 1915, Suhrawardy, with D. H. Lawrence and Philip Arnold Heseltine, visited Lady Ottoline Morrell. [A photo of which, taken by Lady Ottoline, is available in the National Portrait Gallery.] Other guests recorded in the visitors' book that day included Aldous Huxley.

Suhrawardy was a poet and art critic, who also worked as a diplomat. He was the son of Justice Sir Zahid Suhrawardy and Khujesta Akhtar Banu and nephew of Abdullah Al-Mamun Suhrawardy who had also studied at Oxford. Suhrawardy was a graduate of Presidency College, Calcutta, before sailing for England. After graduating from Oxford, he taught English at the Imperial University of St Petersburg and at the Women's University in Moscow. Amongst his students was Alexander Kerensky, the Prime Minister of Russia. Suhrawardy was a member of the producers' committee at the Moscow Art Theatre and worked with the composer, Igor Stravinsky. He witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution of 1919 and then moved to France. He returned to India in the 1920s to pursue research in art, teaching in Calcutta and Hyderabad. He also translated works from Russian and Chinese into English.

His younger brother, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, who was at Oxford at the same time, was Prime Minister (the post now called Chief Minister) of Bengal in 1946 and Prime Minister of Pakistan, 1956-7. Due to similar sounding names and the same initials with his brother, Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy is often known as Shahid Suhrawardy. He should also not be confused with his uncle Sir Hassan Suhrawardy.


Ahmed Ali (friends and co-founders of Pakistan PEN - a writing organization), Robert Bridges, D. H. Lawrence, Philip Arnold Heseltine (aka Peter Warlock - composer and music critic), Aldous Huxley, Basanta Kumar Mallik (students at Oxford together), Lady Ottoline Morrell, Jawaharlal Nehru, Jamini Roy, Kiran Shankar Roy (students at Oxford together), Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (his brother, who was Prime Minister of Bengal and Pakistan), Rabindranath Tagore (met when Tagore visited Oxford in 1913).

Published works: 

Faded Leaves (London: J. M. Baxter, 1910)

'Narcisse-Mallarméen; Chinoiserie: Samainesque' in Oxford Poetry 1915 (Oxford: Blackwells, 1915)

Bartold, V. V., Mussulman Culture, translated from the Russian by Shahid Suhrawardy (Calcutta: Calcutta University Press, 1934)

Essays in Verse (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1937)

Prefaces [Lectures on Art Subjects] (Calcutta: Calcutta University Press, 1938)

Lee, Hou-chu, Poems of Lee Hou-chu, rendered into English from the Chinese by Liu Yih-lung and Shahid Suhrawardy (Bombay: Orient Longmans, 1948)

'The Writer and his Freedom' in Pakistan PEN Miscellany 1, ed. by Ahmed Ali (Karachi: Kitab, 1950)

The Art of the Mussulmans in Spain (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2005), with introduction by Naz Ikramullah Ashraf.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Art critic for The Statesman (Calcutta), 1940-7.

'Tagore at Oxford', The Calcutta Municipal Gazette: Tagore Memorial Special Supplement, 13 September 1941.

Secondary works: 

Hosain, Shahid (ed.), First Voices: Six Poets from Pakistan: Ahmed Ali, Zulfikar Ghose, Shahid Hosain, Riaz Qadir, Taufiq Rafat, Shahid Suhrawardy (Lahore: Oxford University Press, 1965)

Shamsie, Muneeza, A Dragonfly in the Sun: An Anthology of Pakistani Writing in English (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 1997)

Talukdar, Mohammad H. R. (ed.), Memoirs of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy with a brief account of his life and work (Dhaka: Dhaka University Press, 1987)

Zytankek, George J. and Boulton, James T. (eds), The Letters of D. H. Lawrence, volume II, June 1913-Oct. 1916 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981)


Letter from D. H. Lawrence to Lady Cynthia Asquith, 5 December 1915, in George J. Zytanek and James T. Boulton (eds) The Letters of D. H. Lawrence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), volume II, p. 466.


D. H. Lawrence is describing his visit to Lady Ottoline Morrell's (on 29 November 1915) and the people he met - including Suhrawardy. In this extract, Lawrence is recounting Suhrawardy's comments about Lady Ottoline.


The Indian says (he is of Persian family): 'Oh, she is so like a Persian princess, it is strange - something grand, and perhaps cruel.' It is pleasant to see with all kinds of eyes, like argus. Suhrawardy was my pair of Indo-persian eyes. He is coming to Florida.


This extract reveals Lawrence's deep admiration for Suhrawardy and his intentions to take him to Florida with him (which did not materialize). Lawrence is keen to stress the Persian descent of Suhrawardy, but also sees Suhrawardy as an interpreter of Eastern views (Indo-persian eyes).

Archive source: 

Portrait with D. H. Lawrence and P. A. Heseltine, National Portrait Gallery, London

L/PJ/12/3, India Office file on his activities in Moscow and Europe, April 1917 - February 1935, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras