Swarnakumari Debi

Ruma Chakravarti

In the year 1876 the December chill in Calcutta was suddenly stirred by the appearance of an anonymous novel. Its title was ‘Deep Nirbaan’ or the Extinguishing of the Lamp. Its readers were amazed by the maturity of the unknown author. And when they found out that it was by an eighteen year old girl? Disbelief joined exclamation.

“It is being said that a lady of high birth has written this. This is glorious indeed. Not many women can be said to possess such education, such authorship, such empathy – not just in Bengal but in other lands as well,” reported the Sadharani periodical.

Swarnakumari

(Swarnakumari Debi)

A decade had hardly passed since the publication of ‘Durgeshnandini’ by Bankim Chatterjee, the first novel in Bengali. But was ‘Deep Nirbaan’ the first novel by a Bengali woman? Swarnakumari Tagore who wrote it was not even the first Bengali authoress. Before her had…

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