Kamini Roy 155th Birth Anniversary: Google on Saturday celebrated the 155th birth anniversary of Bengali poet, educator, and activist Kamini Roy with a doodle. Roy, who was the first woman to graduate with honors in the history of India, was an advocate for the rights of women. “Why should a woman be confined to home and denied her rightful place in society?” she asked in 1924.
Roy was born into a prominent family in the Bakerganj district of British India — now Bangladesh — on this day in 1864. Her brother was elected Mayor of Calcutta, and her sister was a physician for Nepal’s Royal Family. Her father, Chandi Charan Sen, a judge and a writer, was a leading member of the Brahmo Samaj. Though she was interested in mathematics, Kamini began writing poetry at an early age. She was one of the first girls to attend school in British India.
At a time when women were expected to focus primarily on marriage, Kamini was determined to pursue education. In 1886, she graduated with a degree in Sanskrit from Bethune College, earning her BA with honors. In college, she met another student, Abala Bose, who went on to be known for her social work in women’s education and alleviating the condition of widows. Her friendship with Bose inspired her in advocating for women’s rights.
After graduation, Kamini became a teacher at Bethune and published ‘Alo O Chhaya’, the first of her many books of poems, in 1889. By forming organisations to champion causes she believed in, she helped advance feminism on the Indian subcontinent. She also worked to help Bengali women win the right to vote in 1926.
For her literary accomplishments, Kamini Roy was awarded the Jagattarini medal by Calcutta University in 1929.
In 1894 she married Kedarnath Roy. She had two children, after which she retired from her writing profession. When asked why she had stopped writing she reportedly said, “My children are my living poems.” Kamini returned to writing poetry after the death of her husband in 1909 and her oldest son.