Sukumar Ray


Born in 1887, Sukumar Ray was the father of the famous Indian film director, Satyajit Ray. Sukumar's father, Upendrakisore, had set up his own printing press in his house in Calcutta and wrote a number of articles on printing for the British printing journal, The Penrose Annual, from 1897 to 1912.

Sukumar Ray arrived in England in the autumn of 1911 and initially lodged with the Northbrook Society at 21 Cromwell Road. He studied printing at the London School of Photo Engraving and Lithography in Bolt Street, run by London County Council, and then went to Manchester and studied at the Manchester School of Technology. In Manchester, he wrote letters to his parents from 12 Thorncliffe Grove and then 65 Ducie Grove. Ray was present in London when Rabindranath Tagore visited the city in 1912; Tagore was a friend of his father's in Calcutta. He often visited the house of Dr and Mrs P. K. Ray in London to eat Indian food and meet other Indians in London. At P. K. Ray's house, Sukumar Ray met K. G. Gupta and later married his niece.

Ray met E. B. Havell in London, whom he had known as Principal of the Calcutta School of Art, and visited Rothenstein's house. Rothenstein suggested to Ray that he make colour reproductions of the Ajanta caves and Indian architecture, influenced by his preoccupations with the India Society. Ray was good friends with Rathindranath, the son of Rabindranath Tagore.

Sukumar Ray was made a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1922. He was famous for his humourous 'literary nonsense' and was also a story-writer and illustrator.  

Published works: 

'The Spirit of Rabindranath Tagore', The Quest V.1 (Oct. 1913), pp. 40-57

Date of birth: 
30 Oct 1887

E. J. Beck (through NIA and 21 Cromwell Rd), Atul Bose, A. H. Fox-Strangways, K. G. Gupta, E. B. Havell, Prasanta Mahalanobis, Sarojini Naidu, P. K. Ray, William Rothenstein, Rabindranath Tagore, Rathindranath Tagore

Contributions to periodicals: 

Penrose Annual in 1912.

Secondary works: 

Robinson, Andrew, 'Selected Letters of Sukumar Ray', South Asia Research 7.2 (Nov. 1987), pp. 169-236

Chaudhuri, Sukanta (ed. and trans.), The Select Nonsense of Sukumar Ray (Calcutta: Oxford University Press, 1987)

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name city of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 


12 Thorncliffe Grove
Manchester , M19 3LS
United Kingdom
53° 26' 36.438" N, 2° 10' 52.9212" W
65 Ducie Grove
Manchester , M13 9NS
United Kingdom
53° 27' 47.3904" N, 2° 13' 52.4928" W
Date of death: 
10 Sep 1923
Location of death: 
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Oct 1911
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

October 1911 - end of 1913

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