The fourth daughter of Maharshi Devnadranath Tagore, Swarnakumari (1845-1932), penned her first novel when she was barely twenty years old. At 69, she wrote her last one. Between these two novels she had written several several short stories, essays, plays, poems and lyrics. All her writings revolve round contemporary themes. She had seen the gradual breakdown of conservative ideas and the emergence of a new awakening, for a good part of the nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, she had seen the frenzy of the different facets of political movements throughout the country – the wrong doings and the struggle to stop thems. She took up the challenge of editing ‘Bharati’ in the backdrop of the inner quarters of her household. She built up an institution like ‘Sakhisamiti’ in an endeavour to light up the lives of the women of Bengal with self-sufficiency. To know her works and her writings is searching for our roots. This piece of writing is the fulfilment of that search.
Sudakshina Ghose is an essayist and a teacher of the Bengali language. Her area of interest surrounds Swarnakumari and the works of the later poets.
Tapati Chowdhurie, the translator, retired from St. Xavier’s College and School, and is senior English teacher in La-Martiniere School for boys, Kolkata.
In recent times there is a keenness to search for our lost legacy. So there is a necessity to resurrect the writings of forgotten women writers. Very often this search has led us to new and amazing discoveries, and many unknown talents have been found.
Basumati-Sahitya-Mandir, a long time ago had published a collection of Swarnakumari's works. Though it was published in six volumes, comprising her stories, novels, plays and poems we do not find her essays in them. A lot about this exceptionally talented writer can be known from her essays. Her scientific essays, which are remarkable for that age, also did not find a place in any of these volumes.
The compilation of Swarnakumari's works published by Ramayani Prakash Bhavan in 1384  under the editorship of Bani Roy also did not include her essays. Readers can savour the writings of this essayist in an anthology published in 1404  under the editorship of Avijit Sen and Avijit Bhattacharya, entitled Swarnakumari Devir Sankalita Prabandha [A collection of essays by Swarnakumari Devi].
In order to have a complete idea of her writings and to know her life as a writer, a keen reader has to turn to the pages of Bharati or Bharati or Balak. In her eighteen long years of editing Bharati, one gets a rare glimpse of Swarnakumari's editorial qualities.
Even today there exists the need to search for Swarnakumari's works from the remote bookshelves of dusty libraries; the need to know Swarnakumari, and the trials and tribulations she went through to rise above her times. It is our duty to know about our past and discover our roots.
To delve into the life of an independent minded individual who lived more than a hundred years ago is a part of the fulfillment of the duty.
Without the active co-operation of so many people I could not have done this work. To them I extend my deep gratitude. Just as I have been enriched by discussing various issues with Sutapa Bhattacharya, similarly I have benefitted from her advice during the composition of the manuscript. Both Satyapriya Ghose and Saswata Bhattacharya have helped me by allowing to me use their personal collection of books unreservedly. Sumita Bhattacharya and Sujit Majumder collected materials for me from books and journals.
I have been greatly benefitted by Brajendranath Bandyopadhyay's book entitled Swarnakumari [Sahityasadhak Charitmala], Pasupati Sasmal's Swarnakumari O Bangla Sahitya, Sunil Das' Bharati Itihas O Rachnapanji and Prasanta Kumar Pal's Rabijibani from the first to the seventh volume. I have collected a lot of information from these books.
The employees of Rabindrabhavan Library, Santiniketan have shown great interest and helped me tirelessly in my work. The officials of Visva Bharati have allowed me to go through the letters of Swarnakumari preserved in the library. I was also allowed to use a lot of books and journals from the of Bangiya Sahitya Parishad and Hiran Library. A lot of information, was also provided by The Statesman. With gratitude I remember all those who helped me in this endeavour.
In writing this humble volume on the life of Swarnakumari I have been the one to be enriched. I offer my the most heartfelt and thanks to Sahitya Akademi for this opportunity.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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