Vidyavinodini, Nurunnessa Khatun

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Vidyavinodini, Nurunnessa Khatun (1894-1975) first Muslim woman novelist. She was born in the village of Shahpur in Murshidabad district in 1894. Her father';s name is Khondakar Habibus Sobhan. Being a daughter of a conservative family, Nurunnessa Khatun did not have the opportunity of getting institutional education. However, after marriage she had the privilege of having English education and practicing literature with the encouragement and support of her husband.

Because of the nature of her husband';s job, she had the opportunity to travel many places. As a result her knowledge about the outside world increased and helped widening her outlook. 'Ahban-Giti' a poem by Nurunnessa Khatun was published in the Baishakh issue of the monthly Kahinur in 1318 BS. Her first novel Swapna-drasta (Visionary) was published from Shrirampur (Hugli) in 1923. It was followed by her other fictional works, such as: Janoki Bai Ba Bharate Moslem Biratwa(Muslim Heroism in India, 1924), Atmadan (Self-sacrifice, 1925), Bhagyachakra, Bidhilipi, Niati, etc.

Among Nurunnessa Khatun's literary works, her domestic novel Swapna-drasta seems to be the best. In this novel, she depicts the details of a Muslim family. Janoki Bai is a historical novel. Its central theme is the love story of Janoki Bai – niece of Raja Ramdas of Debogiri and Alauddin Khalji's commander Yusuf Khan. Atmadan deals with tragic stories of domestic life. Her later works are mainly narrative where the depiction of social milieu is predominant over that of human characters. In 1926, he wrote a historical book entitled Moslem Bikram O Banglar Moslem Rajatwa (Muslim Bravery and Muslim Rule in Bengal). It narrates the history of the Muslims from the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr down to the fall of Nawab of Bengal, Nawab sirajuddaula. Her collected works entitled Nurunnessa Granthabali was published in 1929.

Nurunnesa Khatun was the president of Bangiya Moslem Mohila Sanga (Society of Bengal Muslim Women). In the Magh 1333 issue of Saogat she published her presidential lecture and the Bhadra, 1336 issue, published her article 'Amader Kaj' (our duty).

In recognition of her literary contributions, Nikhil Banga Sahitya Samiti (All-Bengal Literary Society) honoured her with the title of Vidyavinodini, and Nikhil Bharat Sahitya Sanga, 'Sahitya Swaraswati'. In 1952 she left Murshidabad and lived permanently in Dhaka. She died in Dhaka on 6 April 1975. [Wakil Ahmad]