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Beveridge, Annette Susannah Akroyd


Beveridge, Annette Susannah Akroyd (1842-1929) an orientalist renowned for her efforts in women's educational reform in Bengal, Annette Akroyd was born in a business family at Sturbridge in Worcestershire, England. Annette received the highest education available to young women of her time. From 1860-1863 she studied at Bedford College, London. After finishing her education and working for a while, she, inspired by Keshub Chandra Sen's speeches in England, decided to sail for India in 1873 to promote female education in Bengal. However, she later fell out with the famous Bengal Brahma reformer and retired from public life.

In November 1873, due to her efforts, the Hindu Mahila Bidyalaya (Hindu Women School) was founded in Calcutta with 12 students. Under Annette's strict supervision the school was run along western lines. On April 6, 1875, Annette quite disillusioned with her project, married henry beveridge, a member of the ICS stationed at Barasat, and handed over the administration of her school to progressive Brahmas. The school, shut down for a while, was reopened in 1876 as the Banga Mahila Bidyalaya (Bengal Women School). Around 1878 it was incorporated into Bethune School to form Bethune College.

After her marriage, Bengal lost an invaluable crusader in the cause of women's educational reform. Annette retreated into the vastly different, if full and busy, life of a district judge's wife traveling all over present day Bangladesh, and Bengal and Bihar, in India.

However Annette's lasting contribution was her authoritative translations of medieval Indian texts into English. Late in life she began to learn Persian and Turki and turned to the world of oriental scholarship, in which her husband was also a comrade and companion. She is an acknowledged orientalist and translator of Persian/Turki texts. Among these are Gulbadan Begum's humayun namah, and a fresh translation of Babur Namah - works that are treated as masterly renditions.

Politically a conservative, Annette was opposed to the Women's Suffrage Movement gaining ground in England at the time. She was, in fact, the local secretary from Pit ford, of the National anti-women's suffrage league. Annette died a peaceful death at the ripe age of 87, in the London home of her illustrious son Lord William Beveridge. Lord Beveridge paid lasting tribute to the memory of Annette and Henry in a biography of his parents, India Called Them based on a rich collection of their private correspondence. [Sonia Amin]