Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was born on 27 June 1838 was a Bengali poet, novelist, essayist and journalist, most famous as the author of Vande Mataram or Bande Mataram, that inspired the freedom fighters of India, and was later declared the National Song of IndiaChattopadhyay was born in the village Kanthalpara in Naihati, the youngest of three brothers, to Yadav (or Jadab) Chandra Chattopadhyaya and Durgadebi. His family was orthodox, and his father, a government official who went on to become the Deputy Collector of Midnapur. One of his brothers, Sanjeeb Chandra Chatterjee, was also a novelist and his known for his famous book “Palamau”.
He was educated at the Mohsin College in Hooghly and later at the Presidency College, graduating with a degree in Arts in 1857. He was one of the first two graduates of the University of Calcutta .He later obtained a degree in Law as well, in 1869.
He was appointed as Deputy Collector, just like his father, of Jessore, Chatterjee went on to become a Deputy Magistrate, retiring from government service in 1891. His years at work were peppered with incidents that brought him into conflict with the ruling British of the time. However, he was made a Companion, Order of the Indian Empire in 1894.
He was married at a very young of age of eleven, his first wife died in 1859. He later married Rajalakshmi Devi. They had three daughters.
The only novel of Chatterjee’s that can truly be considered historical fiction is Rajsimha (1881, rewritten and enlarged 1893). Anandamath (The mission house of Felicity, 1882) is a political novel which depicts a Sannyasi (Brahmin ascetic) army fighting Indian Muslims who are in the employ of the East India Company. The book calls for the rise of Brahmin/Hindu nationalism but, ironically, concludes with a character accepting British Empire as a necessity. The novel was also the source of the song Vande Mataram (I worship the Mother) which, set to music by Rabindranath Tagore, was taken up by many secular nationalists. The novel is loosely based on the time of the Sannyasi Rebellion, however in the actual rebellion, Hindus sannyasis and Muslim fakirs both rebelled against the British East India Company. The novel first appeared in serial form in Bangadarshan.
Chatterjee’s next novel, Devi Chaudhurani, was published in 1884. His final novel, Sitaram (1886), tells the story of a Hindu chief rebelling against Muslim rule.
Chatterjee’s humorous sketches are his best known works other than his novels. Kamalakanter Daptar (From the Desk of Kamalakanta, 1875; enlarged as Kamalakanta, 1885) contains half humorous and half serious sketches, somewhat on the model of De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.
He was died on 8 April 1894.