Chapter

Formative Years: 1866–89

Suparna Gooptu

in Cornelia Sorabji

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195678345
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080380 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195678345.003.0002
Formative Years: 1866–89

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Cornelia Sorabji was born in a Parsee family at Nasik (Bombay Presidency) on 15 November 1866. The Parsees, a minority group in India, are followers of Zoroaster and worshippers of fire. Although the Parsees developed close associations with the British colonial administration and worked as commercial collaborators, they steadfastly struggled to maintain their own minority identity in temperament and their habits of life. The Sorabji family is described. The life experience of Cornelia's father, Sorabji Kharsedji, had a deep and long-lasting effect on her. Cornelia's writings show that her parents took particular care to encourage them to think independently, and inculcated in them a spirit of self-help. Cornelia's higher education in India is also discussed. In general, her family, social background, and faith in religion and the Empire set the parameters within which she made a bid to aspire for social recognition and economic self-sufficiency. Driven by a social evangelical urge to help disadvantaged social groups, she wanted to equip herself intellectually.

Keywords: Cornelia Sorabji; Parsee family; Sorabji Kharsedji; India; Empire; religion; British colonial administration

Chapter.  10619 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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