Sister Nivedita’s family home in London, where she lived before moving to India in 1898 to set up a girls’ school and help the poor, is to be commemorated with a special plaque on her 150th birth anniversary. “Sister Nivedita, the educationalist and campaigner for Indian Independence,” is the inscription confirmed by English Heritage for the blue plaque to be unveiled on October 28. The London Blue Plaque Scheme, run by English Heritage, celebrates the link between important historical figures and the buildings in which they lived or worked. Founded in 1866, it is believed to be the oldest scheme of its kind.
The Scottish-Irish social worker and disciple of Swami Vivekananda began her professional life as a school teacher in southwest London and set up the Ruskin School in the area. The school was to later become the inspiration for her girls’ school in Kolkata, then Calcutta, she set up in 1898 after accompanying Swami Vivekananda to India that year.
Born Margaret Elizabeth Noble, the name Nivedita or ‘the dedicated one’, was given to her by Swami Vivekananda. In India, she served the poor in Bengal during the times of flood, plague and famine and was a very vocal campaigner against the partition of Bengal proposed by the British in 1905.
“We are happy that English Heritage is recognising her contribution in the areas of education and as a campaigner of Indian Independence on her 150th birth anniversary for the first time on English soil,” said Sarada Sarkar, a London- based teacher who led the campaign for installing the plaque. Later, Sister Nivedita briefly travelled back to London with Swami Vivekananda, arriving at the 21 High Street in Wimbledon on July 31, 1899. He stayed there for a couple of days while Sister Nivedita’s family found him an accommodation nearby.
The house remained Sister Nivedita’s family home until January 1902, though she had permanently moved to India. The Ramakrishna Mission and Sister Nivedita’s followers have invited West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to deliver the keynote address at the unveiling of the plaque.