Humayun Kabir

Other names: 

Humayun Zahiruddin Amir-i Kabir


Exeter College
Turl Street
Oxford, OX1
United Kingdom
51° 45' 13.0968" N, 1° 15' 22.896" W
Date of birth: 
22 Feb 1906
City of birth: 
Near Faridpur, East Bengal
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Near Faridpur
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
18 Aug 1969
Location of death: 
Calcutta, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1928
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Humayun Kabir was a poet, novelist, educationist and politician. He was educated at Exeter College, Oxford and graduated in 1931. Kabir had been heavily involved with the Oxford Union during his student days, having been elected secretary in 1930 and librarian in 1931. He made his farewell speech on the motion: 'This House condemns the Indian policy of His Majesty's Government'. Kabir had also been involved with the student newspapers, the Isis and the Cherwell, and the Oxford Majlis journal, Bharat.

Upon his return to India, Kabir taught at a number of universities. He also became involved in trade union politics and was elected to the Bengal Legislative Assembly in 1937. He took up a number of government posts after 1947, including Minister for Education.

Kabir published a book of poems in Oxford in 1932, and continued to write poetry, short stories and novels after his return to India. He also wrote essays and was a well-respected orator. He died in Kolkata in 1969.


D. F. Karaka (colleagues at Oxford Union), Frank Moraes, E. J. Thompson.

Published works: 

Poems (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1932)

Muslim Politics (Calcutta: Gupta, Rahman & Gupta, 1943)

Our Heritage (Bombay: National Publications, 1946)

Men and Rivers (London: New India Publishing Co., 1947)

Of Cabbages and Kings (Bombay: Hind Kitabs, 1947)

Green and Gold: Stories and Poems from Bengal (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1957)

Britain and India (New Delhi: Orient Longmans, 1960)

Contributions to periodicals: 




Isis, 1931

Oxford Magazine, 1931

Indian Review, 1933

Secondary works: 

Datta, Dipankar, Humayun Kabir: A Political Biography (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1969)

Hollis, Christopher, The Oxford Union (London: Evans Brothers Ltd, 1965)

Karaka, D. F., I Go West (London: Michael Joseph, 1938)

Moraes, F. R., Witness to an Era: India 1920 to the Present Day (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973)


D. F. Karaka, I Go West (London: Michael Joseph, 1938), p. 159


Karaka is remembering the Oxford Majlis and Oxford Union, and the influence of Kabir, his senior.


But the power behind us all was Humayun Kabir - one of the greatest products of modern Oxford, marred though his success was by his misfortune to miss the Presidency of the Union by the narrow margin of four votes. I have always felt that he was more deserving of that office than a great many of us who succeeded, but his intonation, his essentially Indian accent went against him, and the ordinary members of the Union Society did not go any deeper than the surface.

Archive source: 

Oxford Union Archives, Oxfordshire Record Office

India Office files: Mss Eur F236/12; Mss Eur F236/280 and Mss Eur F191/50, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras