Sarojini Naidu

Arthur Symons


Arthur Symons was a British poet, critic and editor prominent in fin-de-siècle London. He is regarded as one of the foremost literary critics of the 1890s.

In London Symons made some of his early literary contacts through the Browning Society, including the eccentric philologist F. J. Furnivall. From him he secured the job of editing various scholarly editions of Shakespeare, while another commission resulted in his first critical work, An Introduction to the Study of Browning (1886). His first book of verse, Days and Nights, followed three years later and was dedicated to his friend and primary influence Walter Pater. Following the principles of the master, from here on his poetry was to move away from the character verse of Browning towards the impressionistic drama of the subjective moment. His total abandonment of moral themes and an objective tone earned him the ire of conservative critics who harangued the so-called ‘Decadent’ movement for its obsession with an aesthetic life lived ‘against nature’. His critical writings stood among the most respected of their day, and his ‘The Symbolist Movement in Literature’ of 1899 arguably counts as the most influential aesthetic treatise of the decade.

He was a major contributor to the Yellow Book and edited its successor, the Savoy, in collaboration with Aubrey Beardsley. His acquaintance embraced the entire ambit of London literary life, with Yeats and Conrad being particularly close. In 1896 at the home of Edmund Gosse he met Sarojini Naidu, who became his confidante and protégé. They corresponded after her return to India, and in 1905 he saw her book of verse The Golden Threshold into print. His Figures of Several Centuries (1916) also features an essay on her poetry.

In 1908 he suffered a nervous breakdown and was confined in a lunatic asylum. After his discharge he lived with his wife Rhoda in seclusion in rural Kent, occasionally sought out as a last surviving remnant of the much-mythologized but by then utterly vanished literary world of the ‘Nineties’.

Published works: 

Silhouettes (1892)
London Nights (1895)
Amoris victima (1897)
Studies in Two Literatures (1897)
Images of Good and Evil (1899)
The Symbolist Movement in Literature (1899)
Spiritual Adventures (1905)
Studies in Seven Arts (1906)
Figures of Several Centuries (1916)
Confessions: A Study in Pathology (1930)

Date of birth: 
28 Feb 1865
Secondary works: 

Beckson, Karl, Arthur Symons: A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)

Hayes, Sebastian, Arthur Symons: Leading Poet of the English Decadence (Shaftesbury: Brimstone 2007)

Archive source: 

John Quinn Memorial Collection, New York Public Library

Berg Collection, New York Public Library

City of birth: 
Milford Haven
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
22 Jan 1945
Location of death: 
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Harindranath Chattopadhyaya


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.

Published works: 

Five Plays (London: Fowler Wright, 1929)

Life and Myself (Bombay: Nalanda, 1948)


Letter to Laurence Binyon, from Cambridge, 13 June 1921

Date of birth: 
02 Apr 1898

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.

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)


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


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

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 


Fitzwilliam Hall Cambridge, CB2 1RB
United Kingdom
52° 11' 58.8408" N, 0° 7' 11.7516" E
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: 


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