Rabindranath Tagore received the knighthood from King George V in 1915, but renounced it after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.

Rabindranath Tagore, a beacon of Bengali literature, was a great scholar, poet, novelist, musician, playwright and artist. Today, August 7, marks the 81st anniversary of the death of the person who made the nation proud by becoming the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. He won the prestigious prize in 1913 for the English translation of his collection of poems, “Gitanjali”, which means “Song Offerings”. Tagore, son of Debendranath Tagore and Sarada Devi was born in Jorasanko of Calcutta on May 7, 1861. He went to England at the age of 17 to study at a public school in East Sussex. He also enrolled as a law student at University College London. But soon, he left his college and returned to India in 1880 to devote himself solely to Bengali literature.

Among his many creations, the national anthems of India and Bangladesh top the list. Some of his other noteworthy works are Gora, Gitabitan, Sanchayita, Ghare Baire and more. Apart from his great contribution to Bengali literature, he played a pivotal role in the modernization of Indian art and culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The famous poet breathed his last on August 7, 1941.

Today, on his 81st death anniversary, let’s take a look at some lesser-known facts about the Bengal bard:

1. Rabindranath Tagore wrote his first poem when he was only eight years old. However, his first substantial poem came out in 1877 under the pseudonym “Bhanusinha”.
2. Tagore is the one who introduced the “short story” genre in Bengali literature. In 1877, he wrote his first short story entitled “Bhikharini” (The beggar) at the age of 16.
3. In 1883, Rabindranath Tagore married Mrinalini Devi who was then only 10 years old. Two of their five children died in infancy. Tagore shared a good affair with his elder brother Jyotirindranath Tagore’s wife, Kadambini Devi which was a powerful influence on his writings.
4. He was conferred with the knighthood by King George V in 1915 but renounced it after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre in 1919.
5. As Rabindranath Tagore was against typical classroom teaching, he founded Visva-Bharati University in 1918, which enabled students to learn freely in the lap of nature.
6. Rabindranath Tagore, who was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, also played a big role in India’s freedom struggle.
7. He met Albert Einstein four times and they had great respect for each other. In one of his writings, Tagore describes the famous scientist: “There was nothing stiff about him – there was no intellectual distance. He seemed to me a man who valued human relations and he showed me a real interest and understanding.