M3 Features

Death anniversary of Prince Dwarakanath Tagore

August 2, 2014

On August 1, 1846, a treacherous thunderstorm raged through London. ‘Vivid flashes of lightning' struck, the wind howled, and in a hotel room, very close to Bond Street, a ‘Prince' died. Dwarakanath Tagore was only 52 when he died in the company of just two members of his vast family -a son and a nephew.

Four days later, they buried him, without ceremony in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Among the mourners were his youngest son Narendranath, nephew Nabin Chandra Mukherji, four medical students who had accompanied him on his trip to England and his former partners Major Henderson and William Prinsep. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert -who had welcomed him to their court like `an old friend' just over a year ago -sent four carriages. It was a princely send off.

Whatever may have been his reputation back home, in London Dwarakanath was the darling of fashionable society. He gave lavish parties, dined with royalty in England and France, showered his friends and hosts with expensive gifts and gave generously to charities. He was immensely popular with European ladies and made no attempt to conceal his many `friendships'. He even kept a boat on the Thames with a certain Mrs Caroline Norton -a divorced, small-time Victorian poet of some `beauty and wit' -where he hosted the literati of the day from Charles Dickens to WM Thackeray.

Pioneer, philanthropist and partner in Carr, Tagore and Co, Dwarakanath dabbled in everything from customs, salt, tea, coal and steam navigation to indigo and sugar plantations and opium. A great friend of Rammohun Roy, he was a strong voice behind the anti-Sati movement, freedom of Press in India and women's education. Never shy of controversy, he was almost the self-styled mayor of Calcutta at one point.

The hotel where he died still stands, although under a different name. Brown's Hotel on 33, Albermarle Street is now a luxury five-star hotel in Mayfair. A room for a night costs anything between £ 460 and £ 3,000 and a Sunday three-course lunch for two will set you back by £ 100. A stay fit for a `Prince' indeed.

Written by: Swagata Ghosh for The Times of India

(The author is a former journalist who has worked for British and Indian newspapers. She now works at Bath Spa University)

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Comments (2)
Prodipto Das Reply
August 03, 2014
He, along with Rammohan Roy, made a lot of positive social changes possible in 19th-century India.
Sikha Reply
August 03, 2014
Dwarkanath Tagore has to be be researched in a modern light.
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