Toru Dutt- Brief Bio

Toru, the youngest of the three children of Mr. and Mrs. Govin Chunder Dutt, was born in her father’s house in Rambagan, Calcutta on 4th of March, 1856. Her mother exercised great influence over the formation of her children’s characters, and the old songs and stories of the country recited by her, had an irresistible attraction for Toru and fired her youthful imagination. At the same time Mrs. Dutt inspired in her heart a deep reverence for Christ. In 1865, Toru’s brother Abju died at the age of fourteen. Toru at the age of 13 was taken to Europe. In 1872, after various courses of study in London and Paris, she returned to Calcutta. Four years later she died of consumption on 30th August, 1877 at the age of twenty-one and a half. She was buried in the C. M. S. Cemetery, Calcutta by the side of her beloved brother and sister, her tombstone has, ‘BE THOU FAITHFULL UNTO DEATH AND I WILL GIVE THEE A CROWN OF LIFE.’


Toru Dutt was nurtured in a literary family. Her works brought a certain intense originality that, before the end of the 19th Century, redeemed Bengali Literature in English from the common- place. She was a natural linguist and in her short life became proficient in Bengali, English, French and later Sanskrit. In specific, she was an enthusiastic student of French and wrote that Language with ease and precision. Her romance, Le Journal de Mlle D’ Arvers, was published in 1879, three years after the appearance of her first work, A Sheaf Gleaned in French Fields. This book of hers contains nearly two hundred poems, the work of seventy or eighty different authors translated into English and this was the only book which she published in her life time (Her sister Aru worked in eight poems in this collection). Toru Dutt’s latter poems were published posthumously, her first collection, entitled, Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan. This volume published by Messers Kegan Paul, contains her latest and best work.

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