A Commentary on the Biography ‘Cornelia Sorabjee: India’s Pioneer Woman Lawyer’

By Sandhya Shyamsundar, WBNUJS, Kolkata.

On reading the biography ‘Cornelia Sorabjee: India’s Pioneer Woman Lawyer‘, one is bound to fall in love with Suparna Gooptu’s take on the legal luminary Cornelia Sorabji who was the first woman to study law in Oxford and, India’s second woman advocate.

Cornelia, though being a pioneer in multiple ways at a time when the colonial professional world was marked by a strong racial and gender bias, failed to occupy the centre stage in colonial India, either as a professional, or in politics, or even in social reform. The book analyzes the political, social and cultural milieu in which she spent her childhood and youth, charts out the implications of her birth in an Indian Christian family, examines the circumstances that made her the first Indian woman to study law, documents her experience in the legal profession and colonial bureaucracy, and understands why and with what consequences she remained a firm loyalist of the British Empire and a critic of mainstream Indian nationalist politics. The author succeeds in doing so (more…)