conscientious objector

Sasadhar Sinha


Sasadhar Sinha came to Britain to study for a BSc at the London School of Economics. He stayed on to complete a PhD at the same institution, returning to India shortly afterwards. On his return, Sinha failed to get a job because of the anti-government content of his journalism and lectures. Fearing arrest, he soon returned to Britain, where, in 1935, he opened the Bibliophile Bookshop at 16 Little Russell Street. The Ceylonese writer Alagu Subramaniam worked as Sinha’s assistant there, and the magazine Indian Writing, to which Sinha contributed regularly, was also based there. Indeed, the Bibliophile became known as a political meeting place for Indians.

As well as being prominent in anti-colonial and left-wing political circles in Britain, Sinha worked as an evening lecturer at Eltham Literary Institute and at Lewisham and Dulwich Literary Institute, lecturing on current affairs, Indian history, economics and political science. Along with several other South Asians during this period, he was a regular reader at the British Museum Reading Room where his reading matter was monitored by government officials who kept surveillance reports on politically active South Asians in Britain. He was married to Marthe Goldwyn, a teacher at Prendergast Girls’ School, Lewisham, and registered as a conscientious objector during the Second World War. By 1941, the Bibliophile was running out of funds and Sinha began to incur debts. He sold the bookshop in 1942 - to either Krishna Menon or one Robert Scott Cleminson - but remained its manager. In 1945, he returned to India to take ‘an active part in the nationalist movement in Bengal’ (L/PJ/12/467, p. 17).

Published works: 

Indian Independence and the Congress (London: Swaraj House, 1943) [booklet]

Why Famine in India (London: Swaraj House, 1943) [booklet]

Indian Independence in Perspective (London: Asia Publishing House, 1965)


L/PJ/12/467, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras, p. 7

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1901

This file contains surveillance reports on Sasadhar Sinha dating from just before his return to England in 1933 to his departure for India in 1945. They document his occupations, his political activities, and his associations with other South Asians in Britain.


Ahmed Ali, Surat Alley, Mulk Raj Anand, Dr Vera Anstey (LSE), Kanwar Muhammad Ashraf, Sudhamay Basu, Dr K. C. Bhattacharyya (Sinha worked briefly as his secretary), Ray Choudhury, Sudhir Mohan Dutt, Professor Ginsberg (LSE), Marthe Goldwyn, Dulip Kumar Gupta, Agatha Harrison, Niharendu Datta Mazumdar, Krishna Menon, Ardesher Phirozsha Petigura, B. C. Sen, K. S. Shelvankar, Alagu Subramaniam, Gajindra Hiralal Thakore.

Contributions to periodicals: 

Indian Writing (regular contributor)

Precise DOB unknown: 

Sinha…is still the proprietor of the Bibliophile Book Shop…From observation kept on this shop, it would seem to be primarily a rendezvous for Indians. On several occasions recently, particularly in the afternoons, as many as twenty-five Indian men and women have been seen to enter and remain on the premises for some considerable time. When leaving none of them appeared to have purchased any of the various extremist books and pamphlets displayed for sale in the window.

Secondary works: 

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)


Of particular interest is Sinha’s establishment of the Bibliophile Bookshop in 1935. This is evidence of the presence of South Asians in Bloomsbury, the heart of London and its literary scene, during this early period of migration. The bookshop’s role as meeting place for politically active South Asian writers, as well as the content of the editorials of Indian Writing and Sinha’s involvement in numerous political organizations, are suggestive of the way in which Sinha, and many of his fellow writers, viewed literature and political commitment as closely linked, in contrast to a belief in ‘art for art’s sake’. The level and detail of the surveillance kept on Sinha is also striking: of particular note in this respect is evidence that the political content of Sinha’s choice of reading matter at the British Museum was monitored.

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/467, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Involved in events: 

India League meetings

City of birth: 
Santini, Ketan, Bengal
Country of birth: 


London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
51° 30' 50.1948" N, 0° 6' 59.6736" W
Bibliophile Bookshop
16 Russell Street
London, WC2B 5HF
United Kingdom
51° 30' 45.6336" N, 0° 7' 16.1472" W
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1972
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1925
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1925-32, 1933-45

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