Rajkumari Bannerjee, is credited with being the first Hindu woman from Bengal to cross the dreaded Kalapani and visit England with her husband Shashipada Bannerjee. If in case, that name sounds familiar, it would be because we have
discussed about him in brief on our second post and would do so again at the end of this thread.
Rajkumari Devi was born in the year 1847 and married to Shashipada Banerjee at the age of 13 in the year 1860. At the time of marriage she was illiterate, but under
Shashipada's tutelage she could read and write within a year of her marriage.
Shashipada had been excommunicated by his own family due to his sympathizing with the Brahmo Samaj and promoting both women's education and widow remarriage. It is mentioned that when the couple
visited their ancestral home, before their journey to England, neighbours had indeed stoned them. Such was the rigidity in matters of foreign travel, at the time.
Mary Carpenter who was visiting India , was quite impressed with Shashipada's work and invited them to England.
So, in 1871, Shashipada and Rajkumari Bannerjee set sail for England on the steamship Olga.
They stayed at the Red Lodge House in Bristol and it was here that their son Albion Bannerjee was born, who later recounts how his mother had "sacrificed her personal feelings and threw
herself into the ordeal for the sake of the cause of Indian womanhood".
Mary Carpenter writes about her:
If she learnt nothing here, the simple fact of her braving all dif- ficulties and persecutions courageously to devote herself with her husband to take the first great step for the emancipation of her sisters is most important, and
had significance which can hardly be exaggerated."
Sadly, Rajkumari had a short life and passed away at the age of 29 in the year 1976.
Following her death, Shashipada remarried.
It was from his second marriage that he had a daughter called Banalata Devi. The founding editor
Of Antahpur Magazine, along with her father . The magazine that was run completely by women and that provided women with a platform to write their travelogues, and the one we have discussed in the second thread of this series.