Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya


Bedford College
47 Bedford Square
London, WC1B 3JA
United Kingdom
51° 31' 8.1588" N, 0° 7' 52.8564" W
Date of birth: 
03 Apr 1903
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
29 Oct 1988
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1921
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 



Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya was born in Mangalore in 1903. Her father was a senior civil servant and her mother was a supporter of both Pandita Ramabai and Sri Aurobindo. At the age of 11 she was married to Krishna Rao, but he unfortunately died just over a year later. As a child widow and with her father also dead, Kamaladevi moved with her mother to Madras in 1917. She met the Chattopadhyaya family from Hyderabad and married Harindranath in 1919 in a civil registry ceremony. A few months after their marriage, Harindranath travelled to Cambridge to study for a PhD at the university. Kamaladevi was left behind in India.

It was up to Kamaladevi’s family to finance her to travel to Britain to join her husband in 1921. Kamaladevi too wished to study in the UK. Her interest in social work led her to enrol in a Social Work Diploma Course at Bedford College, London. The course in sociology combined with practical training which allowed Kamaladevi to visit slums in London. Before she left for England, Kamaladevi had been inspired by her mother’s contacts and the political climate in India to pledge herself to Gandhi’s work. Husband and wife returned to India in 1922 via Europe and a visit with Harindranath’s brother, the exiled revolutionary, Virendranath.

After her return to India, Kamaladevi became actively involved with the All-India Women’s Conference (AIWC) and became friends with Margaret Cousins. She became involved in Gandhi’s Salt Satyagraha in 1930 and was arrested for entering the Bombay Stock Exchange to sell packets of salt. In the meantime she had divorced Harindranath. Kamaladevi continued to be engaged in politics and social work, particularly in promoting handicrafts, until her death in 1988. 


Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya, Mrinalini Chattopadhyaya, Margaret Cousins, M. K. Gandhi, Aurobindo Ghose, Sarojini Naidu.

All-India Women's Conference (AIWC)

Published works: 

(ed.) The Awakening of Indian Women (Madras: Everyman’s Press, 1939)

At the Crossroads: Collection of Essays by Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, edited by Yusuf Meherally (Bombay: Nalanda Publications, 1947)

Tribalism in India (Delhi: Vikas Publishers, 1978)

Indian Woman’s Battle for Freedom Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1983)

Inner Recesses, Outer Spaces (Delhi: Navrang, 1986)

Secondary works: 

Bakshi, S. R., Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya: Role for Women’s Welfare (Faridabad: Om, 2000)

Brijbhushan, J., Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya (Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1976)

Chattopadhyaya, Harindranath, Life and Myself (Bombay: Nalanda, 1948)

Nanda, Reena, Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya: A Biography (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2002)

Archive source: 

Personal Papers, Nehru Memorial Library, Delhi