Round Table Conferences 1930-1932

Bhabani Bhattacharya


Bhabani Bhattacharya was born in Bihar to Bengali parents. In 1927 he graduated with a degree in English literature from Patna University. In 1928 Bhattacharya moved to England to continue his studies. His initial intention was to continue studying English literature at King’s College, London. However after an acrimonious encounter with one of his professors he decided on a degree in history instead. While studying for his degree at the University of London, Bhattacharya was taught by the political philosopher and author Harold Laski who would be, along with Tagore and Gandhi, a lasting influence on his writing.

During his time in London, Bhattacharya became closely associated with Marxist groups and an active member of the League Against Imperialism. While in London, Bhattacharya contributed to a number of journals and newspapers. He published in The Bookman, the Manchester Guardian and the Spectator, which at the time was edited by author of the bestselling Lives of a Bengal Lancer, Francis Yeats-Brown, who would become a close friend. Both he and Tagore urged Bhattacharya to use English as a medium of expression for his fiction, rather than Bengali. In 1930 Bhattacharya translated Tagore’s The Golden Boat to wide acclaim. He graduated from the University of London with a degree in history in 1931, returning for his PhD, which he received in 1934. From 1932 to 1933 he travelled widely through Europe, including Berlin, Budapest, Warsaw, Paris and Vienna.

Bhattacharya returned to India in December 1934 and settled in Calcutta. He married Salil Mukherji in 1935. In 1949 he moved to Washington as Press Attaché for the Indian Embassy. In 1947, So Many Hungers was published. Music for Mohini, one of his most acclaimed novels, was published in 1952 and Shadow from Ladakh, which received the Sahitya Akademi Award (India’s highest literary award), in 1966. His novels were translated into twenty-eight languages. In 1969 he left India to become Visiting Professor at the University of Hawai’i. In 1972 he moved permanently to the US. He died of a heart attack in 1988.

Published works: 

The Golden Boat (translator) (London: Allen & Unwin, 1930)

Music for Mohini (New York: Crown Publishers, 1952)

So Many Hungers! (London: Victor Gollancz, 1947)

He Who Rides a Tiger (New York: Crown Publishers, 1954)

A Goddess Named Gold (New York: Crown Publishers, 1960)

Towards Universal Man. Essays by Rabindranath Tagore, selected and edited by Bhabani Bhattacharya, under the auspices of the Tagore Commemorative Volume Society (Bombay: Asia Publishing House, 1961)

Shadow from Ladhak (New York: Crown Publishers, 1966)

Date of birth: 
10 Nov 1906

Lionel Britton, John Galsworthy, M. K. Gandhi, Harold Laski, Rabindranath Tagore, Francis Yeats-Brown (editor of the Spectator).

Contributions to periodicals: 

The Bookman (‘Bengali Fiction Today’, LXXXIII.493, October 1932, pp. 26-7)

Secondary works: 

Chandrasekharan, K. R., Bhabani Bhattacharya (New Delhi: Arnold-Heinemann, 1974)

Desai, Shantinath K., Bhabani Bhattacharya: Makers of Indian Literature Series (New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1995)

Shimer, Dorothy Blair, Bhabani Bhattacharya (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1975) 

Archive source: 

Contemporary Collections, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University, Boston

City of birth: 
Bhagalpur, Bihar
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
09 Oct 1988
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Sep 1927
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

September 1927 - December 1934



Chuni Lal Katial


Chuni Lal Katial was a doctor and politician. He moved to England in 1927 after graduating with a medical degree from Lahore University and working for five years with the Indian Medical Service in Iraq. He resigned his position to continue his training in public health. He studied in Liverpool and gained a diploma in tropical medicine. He later became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine. On moving to London Katial established his own practice, first in Canning Town and later in Finsbury, attending mainly to working-class patients. He was a member of the Indian Social Club and the Indian Medical Association, and was involved with the Hindu Association of Europe.

He became heavily involved with the India League and was a supporter of Krishna Menon. During the second Round Table Conference in Autumn 1931, he put himself at the disposal of Gandhi, arranging meetings and effectively becoming his chauffeur. The meeting between Charlie Chaplin and Gandhi took place at his house.

He won a seat for Labour on Finsbury Borough Council in 1934 and served as Deputy Mayor from 1936 to 1938. He became the first South Asian mayor in 1938, a position he held until 1939. In 1946, he was elected to the London County Council to represent the borough. His work as Chairman of Finsbury’s public health committee had the most wide-reaching impact, with Katial being a driving force for the creation of a health centre for the borough, which opened in 1938. It concentrated under one roof a number of services and health provisions for the borough’s population, such as doctors’ surgeries, a TB clinic, a dentist and a women’s clinic. It was a trailblazer for similar provisions which formed an integral part of the National Heath Service, created in 1948.

During the Second World War, Katial worked as a civil defence medical officer and chaired the air raid precautions medical service and food control committee. He also provided training in first aid for the St John’s Ambulance Brigade. For his services to the borough he was made a freeman of Finsbury in 1948. The same year he returned to India and worked as Director-General of the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation of India until 1953. He returned to London in the 1970s and died in Putney in 1978.

Published works: 

 Handbook Relating to Public Health Services in Finsbury (London: Finsbury Borough Council)


Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1898

Dr Bhandari, G. D. Birla, Durga Das, Mahdev Desai, M. K. Gandhi, Sir Mirza Ismail, A. S. Iyengar, M. A. Jinnah, Zafarullah Khan, Jiwan Lal Kapur, Muriel Lester, Krishna Menon, Indira Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Motilal Nehru, Sarojini Naidu, Bepin Chandra Pal, Sir A. P. Patro, H. S. L. Polak, K. C. Roy, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Satis Chandra Sen (fellow doctor), Usha Sen, Muhammad Shafi, Said Amir Shah (India League), Purshottamdas Thakurdas.

Hindu Association of Europe, Indian Medical Association, Indian Social Club.

Precise DOB unknown: 
Secondary works: 

Visram, Rozina, Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History (London: Pluto, 2002)

Visram, Rozina, 'Katial, Chuni Lal (1898–1978)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) []

Archive source: 

L/PJ/12/448-56, India Office Records, Asian and African Studies Reading Room, British Library, St Pancras

Oral History Files, Nehru Memorial Library, Delhi, India

Involved in events: 
Other names: 

Dr Chuni Lal Katial

C. L.  Katial


21 Spencer Street Finsbury
London, EC1V 7HP
United Kingdom
51° 31' 41.3724" N, 0° 6' 10.5048" W
Victoria Dock Road Canning Town
E16 3AA
United Kingdom
51° 30' 35.3448" N, 0° 1' 21.7416" E
Date of death: 
14 Nov 1978
Location of death: 
Putney, London
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1927
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

1927-47, 1970-8


Liverpool, London.


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