West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has revived her request for the state to acquire the London home of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The discussion was also a talking point during her visit in 2015.
Banerjee wants her state to acquire privately-owned house at No. 3, Heath Villas at Hampstead, north London, where Tagore lived for a few months in 1912 while he translated Gitanjali, a collection of his poems. Her desire stems from the idea that it should be converted into a museum-cum-memorial of the poet-writer. She expressed the desire during her meeting with Dinesh Patnaik, the acting Indian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom on Nov. 11 in London.
“The home has great historical significance and the chief minister is keen that it be turned into a memorial to Tagore,” a person close to the discussions was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
The property is valued at an estimated £2.7 million and has a blue plaque honoring its famous Indian resident. It reads: “Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian poet stayed here in 1912.”
Tagore left for England in 1912 and translated many of his works during his stay in London. The house played host to some famous British artists and poets, such as WB Yeats, who wrote the introduction to Gitanjali, which went on to win him the Nobel Prize in literature in 1913.
A bronze statue of Tagore stands at the Gordon Square in central London. It was commissioned by the Tagore Centre UK, and inaugurated by Prince Charles in 2011.
During her visit, Mamata Banerjee also unveiled a commemorative blue plaque at Sister Nivedita’s family home in London. The Scottish-Irish social worker and follower of Swami Vivekananda was known for her charitable work in Kolkata. The house, located on Wimbledon High Street in southwest London, was her home before she set sail for Kolkata.
“This is a rare privilege for us. Sister Nivedita, a daughter of this soil, was dedicated and devoted to India. Our country can never forget her,” Banerjee said at the ceremony to mark the unveiling.
The West Bengal CM is expected to meet investors in London and Scotland during her week-long tour in a bid to attract more investors for the state.