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KAMINI ROY (1864–1933)

Kamini Roy was a poet, teacher and writer. She was the daughter of the poet Chandi Charan Sen, was taught by him at home, learning lessons he set for her from his collection of books until she was old enough to use his library. She was a mathematical prodigy but gave it up to study Sanskrit, becoming the first woman honours graduate in 1886 from Bethune College where she was a contemporary of Lady Abala Bose (q.v.). That year she became a teacher, and she published her first collection of verse, Alo o Chhaya, in 1889. She wrote for five more years, till she married at the late age of 30, publishing two more collections. She laid down her pen on marriage and, when asked why she no longer wrote, pointed to her children and said, ‘Why, are these not my living poems?’ However, she was widowed in 1909 and lost her eldest son a few years later. Once again she turned to writing, her last major collection, Malya o Nirmalya, was published in 1913. She was a member of the Female Labour Investigation Commission in 1922-23.

Her writing is simple and plangent, in contrast to the lush style that was the fashion in those days under the all-encompassing light of Rabindranath’s great genius, and perhaps that is why she never received much recognition in her lifetime. She was president of the Bengali Literary Conference in 1930 and vice-president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in 1932-33. She spent her later years living in Hazaribagh.
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