Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Bengali poet, writer
Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Michael Madhusudan Dutt, or Michael Madhusudan Dutta, was a popular 19th-century Bengali poet and dramatist. He was born in Sagordari, on the bank of Kopotaksho [কপোতাক্ষ কপোতাক্ষ] River, a village in Keshobpur Upozila, Jessore District, East Bengal. His father was Rajnarayan Dutt, an eminent lawyer, and his mother was Jahnabi Devi. He was a pioneer of Bengali drama. His famous work Meghnad Bodh Kavya, is a tragic epic.
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  • 1873
    Age 49
    Their relationship lasted until the end of his life, Henrietta pre-deceasing him by three days, on 26 June 1873.
    More Details Hide Details Rebecca died in Madras in July 1892. Only a daughter and a son survived her. The son, McTavish-Dutt, parctised as a pleader in the Court of Small Causes in Madras. The tennis player Leander Paes is a direct descendant of his- Dutt is his great great grandfather on his mother's side.
  • 1869
    Age 45
    His family followed him in 1869.
    More Details Hide Details His stay in England had left him disillusioned with European culture. He wrote to his friend Bysack from France: Dutt had refused to enter into an arranged marriage which his father had decided for him. He had no respect for that tradition and wanted to break free from the confines of caste-based endogamous marriage. His knowledge of the European tradition convinced him of the superiority of marriages made by mutual consent (or love marriages).
  • 1867
    Age 43
    He was admitted to the High Court in Calcutta on his return in February 1867.
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  • 1865
    Age 41
    He was only able to relocate to England in 1865 and study for the bar due to the munificent generosity of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar.
    More Details Hide Details For this, Dutt was to regard Vidyasagar as Dayar Sagar (meaning the ocean of kindness) for as long as he lived.
  • 1863
    Age 39
    His family joined him in 1863, and thereafter they shifted to the much cheaper Versailles, due to the miserable state of their finances.
    More Details Hide Details Funds were not arriving from India according to his plans.
  • 1851
    Age 27
    Four years later, in 1851, he became a Second Tutor in the Madras University High School.
    More Details Hide Details In addition, he edited and assisted in editing the periodicals, Madras Circulator and General Chronicle, Athenaeum, Spectator and Hindoo Chronicle. Dutt was greatly influenced by the works of William Wordsworth and John Milton. Dutt was a spirited bohemian and Romantic. During his stay in Madras, he published such works as King Porus, The Captive Ladie (1849) - centered around King Prithviraj's elopement with the princess of Kannuaj- and Visions of the Past. The Hurkaru, a prominent periodical at the time gave the self-published The Captive Ladie unfavaorable reviews, and was in Madhusudan's own words, "was somewhat severe". John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune, the then President of the Council of Education, was full of praise for the octosyllabic in his letter to Bysack, and advised Dutt to "employ the taste and talents, which he has cultivated by the study of English, in improving the standard, and adding to the stock of the poetry of his own language."
  • 1848
    Age 24
    He was the first Indian to marry an European or Anglo-Indian woman. While in Madras he married Indo-Scottish-Britton, Rebecca Thompson McTavish, a 17 year-old resident of the Madras Female Orphan Asylum, on 31 July 1848.
    More Details Hide Details Dutt assumed the name Michael when the marriage was registered in the baptismal register. They had four children together. He wrote to Bysack in December 1855: Dutt returned from Madras to Calcutta in February 1856, after his father's death (in 1855), abandoning his wife and four children in Madras. No records of his divorce from Rebecca or remarriage have been found. In 1858, he was joined there by a 22 year old of French extraction, Emelia Henrietta Sophie White, the daughter of his colleague at the Madras Male Orphan Asylum. They had two sons, Frederick Michael Milton (July 23, 1861- June 11, 1875) and Albert Napoleon (1869-August 22, 1909), and a daughter, Henrietta Elizabeth Sermista (1859- February 15, 1879). A fourth child was stillborn.
    He did not take the name Michael until his marriage in 1848.
    More Details Hide Details He describes the day as: Long sunk in superstition's night, By Sin and Satan driven, I saw not, cared not for the light That leads the blind to Heaven. But now, at length thy grace, O Lord! Birds all around me shine; I drink thy sweet, thy precious word, I kneel before thy shrine!
  • 1847
    Age 23
    In 1847, he moved to Madras due to severe family tensions and economic hardship, having been disinherited by his father.
    More Details Hide Details While in Madras, he stayed in the Black Town neighbourhood, and began working as an "usher" at the Madras Male Orphan Asylum.
  • 1844
    Age 20
    He had to leave Hindu College on account of being a convert. In 1844, he resumed his education at Bishop's College, where he stayed for three years.
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  • 1843
    Age 19
    Madhusudan embraced Christianity at the Old Mission Church in spite of the objections of his parents and relatives on 9 February 1843.
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  • 1824
    Age 0
    Born on January 25, 1824.
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