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Cornelia SorabjiIndia's Pioneering Woman Lawyer$
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Suparna Gooptu

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195678345

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195678345.001.0001

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(p.1) Prologue
Cornelia Sorabji

Suparna Gooptu

Oxford University Press

Cornelia Sorabji was the first woman to study law in Oxford, the second Indian woman barrister, and among the first Indian women to practise at the Calcutta High Court, to be appointed to a senior bureaucratic office under the British government, and to protect the interests of the purdahnashins. To strike a balance between her pioneering role as a lawyer and her individualism, and political and social conservatism, a personality like Cornelia needed supportive emotional anchors in her life, with whom she could share her ‘unconventionality’ and consequent isolation. Her personal relationship with Harrison Falkner Blair and Elena Rathbone may make one ponder as to why she chose to remain single, although she had a romantic idea of marriage and thought it to be a source of strength and sustenance. The irony of Cornelia's life was that she failed to see any legitimacy in the democratic and nationalist aspirations of the Indian people.

Keywords:   Cornelia Sorabji, Indian woman barrister, individualism, conservatism, Harrison Falkner Blair, Elena Rathbone

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