Kamini Roy

Infobox Person
name =Kamini Roy

image_size =180px
caption =
birth_date =12 October 1864
birth_place =Basanda, Barisal
death_date =27 September 1933
death_place =Hazaribagh
occupation =Poet, scholar
spouse =Kedarnath Roy

Kamini Roy ( _bn. কামিনী রায়) (12 October 1864 - 27 September 1933) was a leading Bengali poet, social worker and feminist from India. She was the first woman honours graduate in India. Sengupta, Subodh Chandra and Bose, Anjali (editors), 1976/1998, "Sansad Bangali Charitabhidhan" (Biographical dictionary) Vol I, Bn icon, p83, ISBN 8185626650 ]

Early life

Born on 12 October, 1864 in the village of Basanda, then in Bakergunj district of East Bengal and now in Barisal District of Bangladesh, she passed the entrance examination in 1880 from Bethune School, established by Bethune at Kolkata, and first arts in 1883. A part of the earliest batch of girls to attend school, she was the first woman honours graduate in the country, having passed her bachelor of arts degree with Sanskrit honours from Bethune College of the University of Calcutta in 1886. Kadambini Ganguly was three years senior to her in the same institution. She continued her association with Bethune College as a teacher.

She hailed from a family of elite Bengal. Her father, Chandi Charan Sen, a judge and a writer, was a leading member of the Brahmo Samaj. Nisith Chandra Sen, her brother, was a renowned barrister in the Calcutta High Court, and later the Mayor of Calcutta. Another sister, Jamini was the house physician of the then Nepal Royal family. In 1894 she married Kedarnath Roy.

She was inclined towards literature from a young age and started composing poems at the age of eight. Her first book of poems, "Alo O Chhaya", was published in 1889.



Kamini Roy was a feminist in an age when even women's education was a taboo. She picked up the cue for feminism from a fellow staudent of Bethune School, Abala Bose. In an address delivered at a girls' school in Calcutta she declared that the aim of women's education was to contribute to their all-round development and fulfilment of their potential. Ray, Bharati, "Women in Calcutta: the Years of Change", in "Calcutta The Living City" Vol II, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri, Oxford University Press, first published 1990, paperback edition 2005, page 36-37. ISBN 019563697 X. ]

In a Bengali essay titled "The Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge" she wrote,

:“The male desire to rule is the primary, if not the only, stumbling block to women’s enlightenment... They are extremely suspicious of women’s emancipation. Why? The same old fear -‘Lest they become like us’.” [ This has been included in an English book "Talking of Power - Early Writings of Bengali Women from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century" edited by Malini Bhattacharya and Abhijit Sen. ]

In 1921, she was one of the leaders, along with Kumudini Mitra (Basu) and Mrinalini Sen of the Bangiya Nari Samaj to fight for woman’s suffrage. Limited suffrage was granted to women in 1925, and in 1926 Bengali women exercised their right for the first time. She was a member of the Female Labour Investigation Commission (1922-23).

Later life

She went out of her way to encourage other writers and poets. In 1923, she visited Barisal and encouraged Sufia Kamal, then a young girl, to continue writing. She was president of the Bengali Literary Conference in 1930 and vice-president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in 1932-33.

Kamini Roy lost her husband in 1909. Her intense grief and pain over his premature death deeply affected her personal life and was reflected in her poems. She was influenced by the poet Rabindranath Tagore and Sanskrit literature. Calcutta University honoured her with the Jagattarini Gold Medal.

In her later life, she lived at Hazaribagh for some years. In that small town, she often had discussions on literary and other topics with such scholars as Mahesh Chandra Ghosh and Dhirendranath Choudhury. She died on 27 September, 1933.


Amongst her notable literary contributions were –"Mahasweta", "Pundorik", "Pouraniki", "Dwip O Dhup", "Jibon Pathey", "Nirmalya", "Malya O Nirmalya", and "Ashok Sangeet". She wrote "Gunjan" for children and a book of essays "Balika Sikkhar Adarsha".


ee also

* [http://banglapedia.search.com.bd/HT/R_0242.htm Biography] , from Banglapedia

NAME=Kamini Roy
DATE OF BIRTH=12 October 1864
PLACE OF BIRTH=Basanda, Barisal
DATE OF DEATH=27 September 1933

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