literary circles

Rabindranath Tagore


Rabindranath Tagore was the son of Debendranath Tagore (1817–1905) and Sarada Devi. The Tagores were one of the leading families of Calcutta, whose estates and assets were built up by Rabindranath's grandfather Dwarkanath Tagore (1794–1846) and consolidated by his father, Debendranath, who headed the Brahmo Samaj movement (a Hindu Reform movement) in Bengal. Rabindranath was the fourteenth child and eigth son of his parents. His elder brother, Satyendranath, was the first Indian to compete and pass the ICS competitive exams in London and was posted to the Indian Civil Service in Bombay. Tagore went to Britain in 1878 and attended lectures at University College, London, but returned to India before he could receive a degree. Tagore's resistance to rote learning inspired him to build a school, Patha Bhavana, at Santiniketan (in the Bengali countryside) in 1901 with only five students.

Tagore is best known as a Bengali literary figure - he experimented in all literary genres (except verse epic), composed about 2,500 songs (words and music), and painted, towards the end of his life, nearly 3,000 paintings. He wrote poems and stories mainly in his mother tongue, Bengali. The Tagore that the world beyond India came to know was catapulted into fame by the award of the Nobel prize for literature. In November of 1912, Gitanjali  (‘Song-offering’) was published in a limited edition of 750 copies by the India Society of London. William Rothenstein had brought Tagore's work to the attention of the India Society and William Butler Yeats provided the introduction. In 1913 it was printed again by Macmillan, and on 16 November 1913, news of the award reached him in Santiniketan.

Subsequently, he toured much of the world and became the world’s first intercontinental literary star. Macmillan published a number of translations of Tagore's poems and stories after this success. A number of Tagore's plays were performed in London by British and Indian troupes. Tagore's international tours were also an opportunity for Tagore to speak against war and nationalism, to promote pan-Asianism, to expound India's spiritual heritage, his aesthetic and educational philosophy, and his ‘poet's religion’. With his fame, Tagore amassed more wealth which he was able to invest into his school at Santiniketan and the University, Visva-Bharati. The school and university attracted money and foreign scholars and students from all over the world, from C. F. Andrews and E. J. Thompson to Indira Nehru (later Gandhi) and Sylvain Levi. In 1919, Tagore returned the knighthood he had received from the British Government in 1915 as a protest against the Amritsar Massacre.

He died on 7 August 1941 at 6 Dwarkanath Tagore Lane, Jorasanko, Calcutta, in the house where he was born.

Published works: 

Publications in Britain between 1912 and 1941: 

Gitanjali (London: India Society, 1912) 

Glimpses of Bengal Life (London: Luzac & Co., 1913)

The Crescent Moon (London: Macmillan, 1913)

The Gardener (London: Macmillan, 1913)

Sadhana (London: Macmillan, 1913)

Chitra (London: India Society, 1914)

One Hundred Poems of Kabir (London: India Society, 1915)

Hungry Stones and Other Stories (London: Macmillan, 1916)

Fruit-Gathering (London: Macmillan, 1916)

Reminiscences (London: Macmillan, 1917) 

Mashi and other Stories (London: Macmillan, 1918)

Home and the World (London: Macmillan, 1919)

The Wreck (London: Macmillan, 1921)

Glimpses of Bengal (London: Macmillan, 1921)

Gora (London: Macmillan, 1923)

Broken Trees and Other Stories (London: Macmillan, 1925)

The Religion in Man (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931)

The Child (London: Allen & Unwin, 1931)

The Golden Boat (London: Allen & Unwin, 1932)

Collected Poems and Plays (London: Macmillan, 1936) 

Date of birth: 
07 May 1861

C. F. Andrews, Annie Besant, Bhabani Bhattacharya (translated poems in The Golden Boat (1932)), Katherine Bradley, Robert Bridges (edited one of Tagore's poems from Gitanjali for his 1915 anthology, The Spirit of Man), Edward Carpenter, J. Estlin Carpenter, Harindranath Chattopadhyaya, Edith Emma Cooper, Kedar Nath Das Gupta (director of plays), R. C. Dutt, Leonard Elmhirst, Jacob Epstein (Tagore sat for a bust in Epstein's studio in August 1926), A. H. Fox-Strangway, M. K. Gandhi, Patrick Geddes, Manmohan Ghose (translated Tagore's 'Paras Pathar'), Iseult Gonne, E. B. Havell, Helene Meyer-Franck, Heinrich Meyer-Benfey, Thomas Sturge Moore, Henry Morley (Professor of English Literature at UCL), Sarojini Naidu, Jawaharlal Nehru, W. W. Pearson, Ezra Pound, Ernest Rhys, Alice Richardson, William Rothenstein,  Kshitish Chandra Sen (was studying in Cambridge when Tagore was in England in 1912 and translated some of Tagore's work), Uday Shankar, St Nihal Singh (discussed Amritsar in July 1920 in London, from which Singh wrote an article for The Hindu (23 July 1920),  Hasan Shahid Suhrawardy (met at Oxford in 1913), Abanindranath Tagore (nephew), Rathindranath Tagore (Son), Satyendranath Tagore (brother), E. J. Thompson, Evelyn Underhill, H. G. Wells, William Butler Yeats .

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Modern Review


Widely reviewed including:

The Asiatic Review 

The Athenæum 

Indian Art and Letters 

The London Mercury

Wide press coverage including:

The Inquirer

The Manchester Guardian

The Times

Secondary works: 

Andrews, C. F., Letters to a Friend (London: Allen & Unwin, 1928) 

Calcutta Municipal Gazette: Tagore Memorial Special Supplement, first published 13 Sept. 1941, reprinted 9 May 1986 (Kolkata: Kolkata Municipal Corporation & New Age, 2002) 

Collins, Michael, Empire, Nationalism and the Postcolonial World: Rabindranath Tagore's Writings on History, Politics and Society (London: Routledge, 2011)

Dasgupta, R. K., Rabindranath Tagore and William Butler Yeats: The Story of a Literary Friendship (Delhi: University of Delhi, 1965)

Dasgupta, Uma (ed.), Rabindranath Tagore: My Life in Words (New Delhi: Penguin Viking, 2006) 

Dutta, Krishna, and Robinson, Andrew, Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man (London: Bloomsbury, 1995)

Dutta, Krishna and Robinson, Andrew (eds), Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

Kripalani, Krishna, Rabindranath Tagore: A Biography (London: Oxford University Press, 1962)

Kundu, Kalyan, Bhattacharya, Sakti and Sircar, Kalyan, Imagining Tagore: Rabindranath and the British Press (1912-1941) (Calcutta: Sahitya Samsad, 2000)

Nandy, Ashis, The Illegitimacy of Nationalism: Rabindranath Tagore and the Politics of Self (Delhi; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994)

Radice, William, 'Tagore, Rabindranath (1861–1941)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004)[]

Rhys, Ernest, Rabindranath Tagore: A Biographical Study (London: Macmillan, 1915)

Rothenstein, William, and Lago, Mary McClelland, Imperfect Encounter: Letters of William Rothenstein and Rabindranath Tagore, 1911-1914. Edited, with an Introduction and Notes by Mary McClelland Lago (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972)

Sen Gupta, Kalyan, The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005)

Tagore, Rabindranath, and Elmhirst, L. K., Rabindranath Tagore: Pioneer in Education. Essays and Exchages Between Rabindranath Tagore and L. K. Elmhirst (London: John Murray, 1961)

Tagore, Rabindranath, Rabindranath Tagore: 1861-1961. A Centenary Volume (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1961)

Thompson, Edward J., Rabindranath Tagore: Poet and Dramatist ([S.I.]: Oxford University Press, 1926)

Thompson, E. P., Alien Homage: Edward Thompson and Rabindranath Tagore (Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1993) 

Archive source: 

Correspondence and papers, Rabindra Bhavan, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan

Correspondence and papers, Elmhirst Centre, Dartington

Correspondence and literary papers, Historical Manuscripts Commission, National Register of Archives

Correspondence with Macmillan, Add. MS 55004, British Library, St Pancras

Rothenstein Mss, Asia and Africa Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to Elizabeth Sharpe, Mss Eur. B 280, Asia and Africa Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Letters to E. J. Thompson, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Letters to Sir William Rothenstein, Houghton Library, Harvard University

Correspondence with T. S. Moore, Senate House Library, London

Correspondence with Robert Bridges, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Sir Patrick Geddes, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh

Macmillan Company Archives, New York Public Library

'Rabindranath Tagore', Channel 4, 3 July 1986, National Film and Television Archive, British Film Institute, London

Documentary footage, Film and Video Archive,  Imperial War Museum,

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


3 Heath Villas
Hampstead , NW3 1AW
United Kingdom
51° 33' 45.7236" N, 0° 10' 34.2516" W
37 Alfred Place West (now Thurloe Street
London, SW7 2L
United Kingdom
Date of death: 
07 Aug 1941
Location of death: 
Calcutta, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
10 Oct 1878
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

10 October 1878 - February 1880, 10 September 1890 - 9 October 1890, 16 June 1912 - 19 October 1912, 19 April 1913 - 3 September 1913, 5 June 1920 - 6 August 1920, 24 March 1921 - 16 April 1921, 4 August 1926 - 20 August 1926, 11 May 1930 - July 1930; 22 December 1930 - January 1931


3 Villas on Heath, Hampstead, London (June and July 1912)

37 Alfred Place West (now Thurloe Street), South Kensington, London (1913)

Quaker Settlement, Woodbroke, Birmingham (visited in May 1930)

John Lehmann


John Lehmann was a writer, poet and publisher. He was the editor of the hugely influential magazine New Writing (1936-40), which also published South Asian writers such as Ahmed Ali and Mulk Raj Anand. He was managing director for Virginia and Leonard Woolf's Hogarth Press from 1938-46, before founding his own publishing company.

Date of birth: 
02 Jun 1907
Secondary works: 

Hughes, David, ‘Lehmann, (Rudolph) John Frederick (1907–1987)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

City of birth: 
Bourne End, Buckinghamshire
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Rudolph John Frederick Lehmann

Date of death: 
07 Apr 1987
Location of death: 


Stevie Smith


Stevie Smith was a novelist and poet. Well connected in the literary world of the 1930s and 1940s, she was acquainted with M. J. Tambimuttu and Mulk Raj Anand, among others.

Date of birth: 
20 Sep 1902
Secondary works: 

Montefiore, Janet, ‘Smith, Florence Margaret [Stevie] (1902–1971)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Other names: 

Florence Margaret Smith

Date of death: 
07 Mar 1971
Location of death: 
Tags for Making Britain: 

David Gascoyne


David Gascoyne was an English poet, writer and translator. In 1933, he visited Paris and became acquainted with Surrealist artists such as Max Ernst, Paul Éluard and Salvador Dalí. Gascoyne played a significant role in promoting the Surrealist movement in Britain; he wrote A Short Survey of Surrealism (1935), and organized the London International Surrealist Exhibition in 1936 with Herbert Read and Roland Penrose. He also translated some key Surrealist works into English, such as André Breton's What is Surrealism? In 1936, he travelled to Barcelona to help the Propaganda Bureau of the Catalonian Government during the Spanish Civil War. In the 1940s and 1950s, he worked at the BBC, presenting programmes on poetry.

Gascoyne started his career as a poet in his teens, publishing his first collection of poems in 1932 when he was only 16. He gained critical recognition when his Poems, 1937-1942, illustrated by Graham Sutherland, was published in 1943 as a volume of Tambimuttu’s Editions Poetry London. His poems were also collected in Tambimuttu’s Poetry in Wartime (1942), and he was a contributor to Tambimuttu’s literary periodical journal Poetry London.

Gascoyne kept journals in the late 1930s, Paris Journal 1937-1939 (published in 1978) and Journal 1936-37 (published in 1980). These are important documents, not only of Gascoyne’s spiritual journey but also of the intellectual milieu of the period; they record his friendship with Dylan Thomas, Kathleen Raine, Roger Roughton, Lawrence Durrell, Henry Miller, and others.

Published works: 

Roman Balcony (London: Lincoln Williams, 1932)

Opening Day (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1933)

A Short Survey of Surrealism (London: Cobden-Sanderson, 1935)

Man's Life is this Meat (London: Parton Press, 1936)

Hölderlin's Madness (London: Dent, 1938)

Poems, 1937-1942, with drawings by Graham Sutherland (London: Nicholson & Watson/Editions Poetry London, 1943)

A Vagrant, and Other Poems (London: Lehmann, 1950)

Thomas Carlyle (London & New York: Longmans, Green, for the British Council, 1952)

Night Thoughts (London: Deutsch, 1956; New York: Grove, 1956)

Collected Poems, ed. by Robin Skelton (London: Oxford University Press/Deutsch; New York: Oxford University Press, 1965)

The Sun at Midnight (London: Enitharmon Press, 1970)

Three Poems (London: Enitharmon Press, 1976)

Paris Journal 1937-1939 (London: Enitharmon Press, 1978)

Journal 1936-37, Death of an Explorer, Léon Chestov (London: Enitharmon Press, 1980)

Early Poems (Warwick, UK: Greville Press, 1980)

La Mano del Poeta (Genoa: Edizioni S. Marco dei Giustiniani, 1982)

Antennae (San Francisco: City Lights, 1982)

Rencontres avec Benjamin Fondane (St Nazaire: Editions Arcane, 1984)

Tankens Doft, ed. by Lars-Inge Nilsson (Lund : Ellerstöms, 1988)

‘PL Editions and Graham Sutherland’, in Jane Williams (ed.) Tambimuttu: Bridge between Two Worlds (London: Peter Owen, 1989), pp. 112-18

Selected Poems (Chester Springs, PA: Dufour Editions, 1994)

Encounter with Silence: Poems, 1950 (London: Enitharmon Press, 1998)


‘Tambimuttu (1915-1983)’, PN Review 34, 10.2 (1983), p. 8

Date of birth: 
10 Oct 1916

Extract from David Gascoyne’s obituary of Tambimuttu.


George Barker, André Breton, Alan Clodd, Cyril Connolly, Salvador Dalí, Lawrence Durrell, Paul Éluard, William Empson, Humphrey Jennings, Pierre Jean Jouve, Henry Miller, Alida Munro, Roland Penrose, Kathleen Raine, Herbert Read, Humphrey Searle, Stephen Spender, Edith Sitwell, Graham Sutherland, M. J. Tambimuttu Dylan Thomas, Robin Waterfield.

Contributions to periodicals: 

New Verse  (‘Answers to an Enquiry’, 11, 11 October 1934)

New Verse (‘The Public Rose’, 13, 13 February 1935)

Purpose: A Quarterly Magazine (‘Selected Poems by Marianne Moore (A Review)’, October - December 1935)

Cahiers d’Arts (‘Premier Manifeste Anglais du Surréalisme (Fragment)’, 10, 1935)

Literary Review (Poetry and Reality’, May 1936)

Comment (‘Henry Miller’, 11.39, 19 September 1936)

Left Review (‘Authors Take Sides on the Spanish War’, 1937)

Criterion (17.66, October 1937)

New Verse (‘Sixteen Comments on Auden’, 26-27, November 1937)

New Road (‘A Lttle Anthology of Existential Thought’, 4, 1946)

Poetry Quarterly (‘Introducing Kenneth Patchen’, 1, 1946)

Poetry Quarterly (‘Note on Symbolism: Its Role in Metaphysical Thought’, 2, 1946)

Horizon (‘Léon Chestov: After Ten Years’ Silence’, 118, October 1949)

London Magazine (‘A New Poem by Pierre Jean Jouve: “Language”’, 2.2, February 1955)

Two Rivers (‘The Sun at Midnight’, 1.1, Winter 1969)

Literary Review (‘Antonia White: A Personal Appreciation’, 21, 25 July-8 August 1980)

Poetry Review (‘Renard’s Gift’, 70, 1980)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Sweeping the World’s Surface’, 3 October 1980)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Misguided Tour’, 5 December 1980)

Adam (‘My indebtedness to Jouve’, 422.424, 1980)

P. N. Review 14 (‘David Wright: A Few Words of Reminiscence and Appreciation’, 6.6, 1980)

Selected Poems, Tememos 1 (Review of Angelos Sikelianos, 1, 1981)

Encrages (‘Le Surréalisme et la Jeune Poésie Anglaise: Souvenirs de l’Avant-Guerre’, 6, 1981)

Temenos (‘A Kind of Declaration’, 1, 1982)

Temenos (‘Prelude to a New Fin-de-Siècle’ (a poem), 2, 1982)

Poetry London/Apple Magazine (‘Gascoyne’s Choice’, 2, 1982)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Good Places and Bad’, 1 October 1982)

New Departures (‘Departures’, 15, 1983)

Temenos (‘Reviews – Ancient Egypt Revisited’, 4, 1983)

P.N. Review 34 (‘Tambimuttu (1915-1983)’, 10.4, 1983)

Resurgence (‘Thoughts of Edgar Morin’, 113, November/December 1985)

Resurgence (‘Self Discharged’, 115, March/April 1986)

Agenda (‘On the State of Poetry’, 27.3, 1989)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Loplop and his Aviary: The Surrealist Visions of Marx Ernst and Man Ray’, 8 March 1991)

Times Literary Supplement (‘Alchemist of the Spirit: Breton’s Esoteric Treasure Hunt’, 23 August 1991)

Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal (‘Fellow Bondsman’, 1, 1992)


Times Literary Supplement, 2 February 1933, p. 79 (Roman Balcony)

Times Literary Supplement, 28 September 1933, pp. 653-4 (Opening Day)

G. Price-Jones, Times Literary Supplement, 4 January 1936, p. 10 (A Short Survey of Surrealism)

Geoffrey Walton, Scrutiny, March 1936, pp. 452-4 (A Short Survey of Surrealism)

Times Literary Supplement, 30 May 1936, p. 462 (Man's Life is this Meat)

Times Literary Supplement, 11 June 1938, p. 406 (Hölderlin's Madness)

Hugh I'Anson Fausset, Times Literary Supplement, 5 February 1944, p. 68 (Poems 1937-1942)

Kathleen Raine, Dublin Review, April 1944, pp. 187-92

Mary Visick, Times Literary Supplement, 12 January 1951, p. 18 (A Vagrant, and Other Poems)

Gordon Wharton, Times Literary Supplement, 18 January 1957, p. 32 (Night Thoughts)

Kathleen Jessie Raine, Times Literary Supplement, August 12 1965, p. 696

M. Edwards, Times Literary Supplement, October 1971, p. 1168 (Collected Verse Translations and The Sun at Midnight)

Stephen Spender, Times Literary Supplement, 27 October 1978, p. 1249 (Paris Journal 1937-1939)

Alan Young, PN Review, 1980, pp. 64-65 (Paris Journal 1937-1939)

Philip Gardner, Times Literary Supplement, 6 February 1981, p. 132 (Journal 1936-37)

Alan Ross, London Magazine, 21.3, June 1981, pp. 8-9 (Paris Journals 1937-1939 and Journal 1936-1937’)

Valentine Cunningham, Times Literary Supplement, 26 August 1988, p. 941

Andrew Frisardi, The Kenyon Review, Summer - Fall 2001, p. 206 (Selected Prose 1934-1996)


As I shall ever be indebted to Tambimuttu for publishing the first collection of my poems to be taken seriously by certain critics, it is not possible for me to express in conclusion a wholly unbiased or definitive opinion regarding him. He was warmly impulsive and loyal; he inspired loyalty and affection in a wide variety of not inconsiderable people; he could at times be exasperating but, as our wise mutual friend Robin Waterfield sometimes said of him, ‘One has to take Tambi like the weather’. His worst fault may well be said to have been his generosity. The reproach that someone, especially a man of letters, is generous to a fault, is unfortunately one that is now in increasing decline.

Secondary works: 

Atkinson, Ann, ‘David Gascoyne: A Check-List’, Twentieth Century Literature 6 (1961), pp. 180-92

Benford, Colin T., David Gascoyne, a Bibliography of his Works, 1929-1985 (Ryde, Isle of Wight: Heritage Books, 1986)

Christensen, Peter, ‘David Gascoyne: Confessional Novelist’, Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal 1 (1992), pp. 72-90

Cronin, Anthony, ‘Poetry & Ideas-II: David Gascoyne’, London Magazine 4.7 (1957), pp. 49-55

Duncan, Erika, ‘The Silent Poet: Profile of David Gascoyne’. Book Forum: An International Transdisciplinary Quarterly 4 (1979), pp. 655-71

Duncan, Erika, Unless Soul Clap its Hands: Portraits and Passages (New York: Schocken Books, 1984)

Jennings, Elizabeth, ‘The Restoration of Symbols’, Twentieth Century 165 (1959), pp. 567-77

MacNiven, Ian S., ‘Emblems of Friendship: Lawrence Durrell and David Gascoyne’, Deus Loci: The Lawrence Durrell Journal 2 (1993), pp. 131-3

Quinn, Bernetta, ‘Symbolic Landscape in David Gascoyne’, Contemporary Literature 12.4 (1971), pp. 466-94

Raine, Kathleen, ‘David Gascoyne and the Prophetic Role’, Sewanee Review 75 (1967), pp. 193-229

Ray, Paul C., ‘Meaning and Textuality: A Surrealist Example’, Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal 26.3 (1980), pp. 306-22

Silkin, Jon, ‘David Gascoyne’, Agenda 19.2-3 (1981 Summer - Autumn), pp. 59-70

Stanford, Derek, ‘David Gascoyne: A Spiritual Itinerary’, Month 29 (1963), pp. 156-69

Stanford, Derek, ‘David Gascoyne and the Unacademics’, Meanjin Quarterly 23 (1964), pp. 70-9

Stanford, Derek, ‘Gascoyne in Retrospect’, Poetry Review 56 (1965), pp. 238-47


The concluding paragraph of Gascoyne’s obituary gives insight into Tambimuttu’s character as Gascoyne saw it and the nature of their friendship.

Archive source: 

Gascoyne Notebooks, Manuscripts, British Library, St. Pancras

Beinecke Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

Buffalo State College, State University of New York

McFarlin Library, University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Brotherton Library, University of Leeds

Berg collection, Humanities and Social Sciences Library, The New York Public Library

Sound Archive, British Library, St Pancras

City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
25 Nov 2001
Location of death: 
Newport, Isle of Wight

Alagu Subramaniam


Alagu Subramaniam was a Ceylon-born English short story writer. He was one of the founders and editors of the literary magazine Indian Writing. Mulk Raj Anand and Iqbal Singh also published one of his short stories in their anthology Indian Short Stories (New India Publishing Company, 1946). His short stories were published by a number of journals, such as Life and Letters Today and the Left Review. He was also involved with the anti-colonial organization Swaraj House.

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1910
Precise DOB unknown: 
Secondary works: 

Brooker, Peter and Thacker, Andrew (eds), The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines: Volume I: Britain and Ireland 1880-1955, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Ranasinha, Ruvani, South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain: Culture in Translation (Oxford: Clarendon, 2007)


Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka
Date of death: 
01 Jan 1971
Precise date of death unknown: 


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