Jawaharlal Nehru


Trinity College Cambridge, CB2 1TQ
United Kingdom
52° 10' 21.3528" N, 0° 6' 40.3992" E
Harrow School HA1 3HP
United Kingdom
51° 35' 12.6204" N, 0° 20' 16.1376" W
Date of birth: 
14 Nov 1889
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
27 May 1964
Location of death: 
Delhi, India
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1905
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1905-12 (and as a visitor at times thereafter)


Jawaharlal Nehru was president of the Indian National Congress (INC) 1929-30, 1936-7 and 1946; independent India’s first Prime Minister, and the author of some of its most definitive, form giving national texts (An Autobiography (1936); The Discovery of India (1946)). Nehru’s father Motilal sent him to England for his further education. Here he spent seven largely undistinguished, if privileged years, as described in the Autobiography: 1905-7 at Harrow, the public school; 1907-10 at Trinity College, Cambridge (Natural sciences tripos, 2nd class), and then ‘hovering about’ London studying for his Bar examinations (p. 25). He was called to the Bar in 1912 and returned to India where he eventually embarked on a successful political career through Congress.

Nehru traces the reverse path to M. K. Gandhi, who came into contact with Theosophy in Britain.  Nehru was a young Theosophist, due to the influence of his teacher F.T. Brooks (and was inducted by Annie Besant), but in England abandoned this in favour of a Pater-esque aestheticism, and then the binding involvement of nationalist politics. At Harrow he met the son of the Gaekwad of Baroda and Paramjit Singh. Nehru read the sexologists of the time, including Havelock Ellis and Kraft-Ebbing. At Harrow he met Edwin Montagu, and heard the guest speakers, B.C. Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai and Gokhale during his student days.

Perhaps the most important aspect of Nehru’s time in Britain is the extent to which his experiences as a student, an Indian student in particular, empowered him even if silently as a political thinker, and how his clubbing together with other Indian students fostered and sharpened his sense of India (although he was not particularly active in the Cambridge Majlis). Nehru returned to Britain a number of times after his student days, whether for political negotiations with the Government or to escort his daughter, Indira, for her education in the 1930s.


Annie Besant, Gaekwad of Baroda, Stafford Cripps, Clemens Palme Dutt, Rajani Palme Dutt, M. K. GandhiGokhaleSyed Mahmud (student contemporary), Edwin Montagu, Sarojini Naidu, Indira Nehru, B. C. Pal, Lala Lajpat Rai, J. M. Sengupta (student contemporary), T. A. Sherwani (student contemporary), Paramjit Singh, S. M. Sulaiman (student contemporary), E. J. Thompson, S. A. Wickremasinghe, Marquess of Zetland.

Published works: 

An Autobiography (London: John Lane, 1936)

Discovery of India (London: Meridian Books, 1946)

A Bunch of Old Letters (1958)

Secondary works: 

Akbar, M. J., Nehru. The Making of India (New York: Viking, 1988)

Brown, Judith M., Nehru: A Political Life (London: Yale University Press, 2003)

Gandhi, Sonia (ed.), Freedom's Daughter: Letters between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 1922-1939 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1989)

Gandhi, Sonia (ed.), Two Along, Two Together. Letters between Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru 1940-1969 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992)

Gopal, S., Jawaharlal Nehru (London: Jonathan Cape, 1973)

Gopal, S (ed.), Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru, 3 vols (New Delhi: Orient Longman, 1975-1984)

Majeed, Javed, Autobiography, Travel and Postnational Identity (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006)

Nanda, B. R., The Nehrus. Motilal and Jawaharlal (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1962)

Parthasarathi, G. (ed.), A Bunch of Old Letters. Written Mostly to Jawaharlal Nehru and some written by him (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1958)

Wolpert, Stanley, Nehru. A Tryst with Destiny (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Archive source: 

Photographs, Harrow Archive, Harrow School

Personal papers and correspondence, Nehru Memorial Library and Museum, Delhi

Correspondence with E. J. Thompson, Bodleian Library, Oxford

Correspondence with Sir Stafford Cripps, The National Archives, Kew

Government records, National Archives of India, New Delhi