Michael Madhusudan Dutt

Other names: 

Michael Madhusudan Datta

M. M. Dutt

M. M. S. Dutt


Russell Square, London WC1H 0DB
United Kingdom
51° 31' 38.7516" N, 0° 7' 16.2192" W
Date of birth: 
25 Jan 1824
City of birth: 
Jessore, Bengal
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Date of death: 
29 Jun 1873
Location of death: 
Calcutta, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jul 1862
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

July 1862 - April 1869


Born in 1824, Madhusudan Dutt was the son of a lawyer. In 1830, he moved to Calcutta and later studied at Hindu College where he began to write poetry in English and Bengali. In 1842, his poems began to be published in literary magazines in India. He sent some to the editors of Blackwood's Magazine and Bentley's Miscellany in Britain but they were not published. He greatly admired Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley and had a fierce ambition to visit England. Dutt began to consider conversion to Christianity when his father proposed an arranged marriage to a Hindu girl. In 1843, Dutt ran away from home and was baptised. He moved to Madras and married an orphan called Rebecca.

Having returned to Calcutta, Dutt published the epic historical poem Meghnad-Badh-Kabya in Bengali, for which he is most famous. Having found little success in his poetry written in English, Dutt's works in Bengali were more favourably received. Dutt's Bengali poetry and plays influenced and encouraged others like Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and later Rabindranath Tagore.

He still had a strong desire to go to Britain and so raised enough money to leave in 1862. Initially he stayed with Manomohun Ghose and Satyendranath Tagore in London and was admitted to Gray's Inn. His second wife, Henrietta, and children joined him in 1863. Beset by financial difficulties and facing racial prejudice, they moved to Versailles. Dutt continued to return to London to attend the Bar dinners and lived in Shepherds Bush for a while. He was called to the Bar on 17 November 1866. Dutt sailed back to India in 1867 and tried to pursue a legal career. He died in 1873.


Manomohun Ghose (lawyer), Dr Theodore Goldstrucker (Professor of Sanskrit at UCL), Satyendranath Tagore, I. C. Vidyasagar.

Published works: 

Works include:-

The Captive Ladie (1849)

Krishna Kumari (1861)

Meghnad-Badh-Kabya (1861)

Ratnavali (1858)

Sermista (1859)

Secondary works: 

Chaudhury, Rosinka, Gentlemen Poets in Colonial Bengal: Emergent Nationalism and the Orientalist Project (Calcutta: Seagull, 2002)

Datta, Michael Madhusudan, The Slaying of Meghanada: a Ramayana from Colonial Bengal, translated and with an introduction by Clinton B. Seely (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004)

Gupta, Kshetra (ed.), Madhusudan Rachanabali (Calcutta: Sahitya Samsad, 1993) [Collected Works in Bengali]

Murshid, Ghulam, Lured by Hope: A Biography of Michael Madhusudan Dutt (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Murshid, Ghulam (ed.), The Heart of a Rebel Poet: Letters of Michael Madhusudan Dutt (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2004)

Archive source: 

Exam paper, Society for the Propagation of the Gospels Papers, Rhodes House Archives, Oxford