India's First Woman Doctor and Her American Champions
by Nandini Patwardhan
Pub Date 27 Mar 2020
Talking about this book? Be sure to tag it using #RadicalSpirits #NetGalley
In 1883, an eighteen-year-old Indian woman named Anandi Joshee sailed alone from Calcutta to New York with the goal of becoming a doctor. At the time there were no schools for girls in India. Also, the few doctors (who were all male) could not treat female patients.
Having witnessed the suffering of women, Anandi hoped to help create a culture that saw women as deserving and capable of equality with men.
Anandi's husband Gopal tutored her and fostered her ambition.
Her American champion was Theodocia Carpenter, a New Jersey housewife who initiated a three year correspondence with Anandi, offering “all possible help.”
With her determination and grace, Anandi won the support of all—critics and skeptics and Indians, Americans, as well as British—who crossed her path. Three thousand supporters attended her 1886 graduation from the Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia.
Based on original letters, university archives, and newspaper accounts, RADICAL SPIRITS draws a textured portrait of British India and post-Civil War America. Exploring the relationships that Indian, British and American individuals forged by bridging cultural, political, and class boundaries is sure to be a rich and rewarding experience.
A Note From the Publisher
"A sensitive look at the inner world of India’s first woman doctor, the pain and suffering she endured, and the determination that drove her remarkable and inspiring journey." -- SHRABANI BASU, author of Victoria and Abdul"In the company of a brave and determined young woman, Radical Spirits takes us to the fraught social and religious frontier between two cultures, India and America in the late 1800s. The journey makes for a captivating story, every page granting insights into the age-old struggle to surmount entrenched borders and barriers." -- ROBERT KANIGEL, author of The Man Who Knew Infinity and Eyes on the Street"Deeply researched and accessibly written, this intimate portrait is also a social and cultural history of the circuits of a transnational figure who made medical history. Readers of Radical Spirits will come away with a critical appreciation of the worlds Anandi Joshee traveled through and the challenges she faced as she pursued a medical education and “a new independent self.” Of equal historical significance is the history of her husband, Gopal, and the frictions at the heart of “companionate” marriage in 19th century India that this study makes visible. Despite her short life, Dr. Joshee found kith and kin in India, Britain and beyond. Nandini Patwardhan has brought the paradoxes of her life alive for a new generation of readers." -- ANTOINETTE BURTON, historian of 19th and 20th century Britain and its empire, with a specialty in colonial India, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign"Radical Spirits is the story of a remarkable woman and of a life lived across borders of many kinds. By telling the history of Anandi-bai Joshee, Nandini Patwardhan has crafted a uniquely intimate and revealing portrait of the long history of migrants from India to America. A beautiful story and a rich history, Radical Spirits reveals how individual lives matter, and how one pioneering woman crossed the borders of nations and cultures, as well as the gendered boundaries of the medical profession." -- NICO SLATE, Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University and author of Lord Cornwallis Is Dead: The Struggle for Democracy in the United States and India and Gandhi’s Search for the Perfect Diet: Eating with the World in Mind"As an Indian-American woman, I am so grateful to Nandini Patwardhan for taking the time and effort to excavate the life story of Anandi Joshee, a remarkable Indian woman. Patwardhan has capably incorporated letters and newspaper articles to craft a compelling, poignant, and inspiring biography of Dr. Joshee. I thoroughly enjoyed every word, and I am in awe of Patwardhan’s accomplishment. Dr. Joshee’s life story will stay with me forever. This book is a treasure for anyone interested in strong, path-breaking women." -- JYOTSNA SREENIVASAN, author of And Laughter Fell from the Sky and Aruna’s Journeys"Every significant life needs to be chronicled and remembered so it can be an inspiration to future generations. Through extensive research and lucid writing, Nandini Patwardhan has brought Dr. Anandibai Joshee’s amazing achievement, grit and dedication to her goal into the public space once again. I am sure the book will inspire, motivate and educate even as it proves a great read of a great life." -- SATHYA SARAN, Indian journalist, author, and former editor of Femina