Sarojini Naidu was known as The Nightingale of India and was a child prodigy, freedom fighter and poet. Naidu was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India. Sarojini was born in Hyderabad, India in 1879 as the eldest daughter of scientist-philosopher and a poetess. Her father was the founder of the Nizam College. She learnt to speak Urdu, Telugu, English, Persian and Bengali. She attained national fame for entering the Madras University at the age of twelve. At sixteen, she traveled to England to study first at King's College, London, and then Girton College, Cambridge.
At the age of 15, she met Dr. Naidu from South India and fell in love with him. After finishing her studies at the age of 19, she married him during the time when inter-caste marriages were not allowed. Her marriage was a very happy one and they had 4 children together.
Sarojini joined the Indian independence movement, in the wake of the aftermath of partition of Bengal in 1905. During 1903-17 Sarojini came into contact with freedom fighters like Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Annie Besant, Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. From 1915 to 1918 she lectured all over India on welfare of youth, dignity of labour, women's emancipation and nationalism. After meeting Jawaharlal Nehru in 1916, she took up the cause of the indigo workers of Champaran. In 1925 she was elected as the President of the Congress, the first Indian woman to hold the post.
In March 1919, the British government passed the Rowlatt Act by which the possession of seditious documents was deemed illegal. Mohandas Gandhi organized the Non-Cooperation Movement to protest and Naidu was the first to join the movement which the government worked to suppress. In July 1919, Naidu became the Home Rule League's ambassador to England. In July 1920 she returned to India and on August 1, Mahatma Gandhi declared the Non-Cooperation Movement. Naidu joined him and when on May 5, Mohandas Gandhi was arrested Naidu too was arrested shortly thereafter and was in jail for several months. She, along with Gandhi, was released on January 31, 1931. Later that year, they were again arrested. Naidu was eventually released due to her poor health and Gandhi was released in 1933. In 1942, she was arrested during the "Quit India" protest and stayed in jail for 21 months with Gandhi. Naidu shared a warm relationship with Mohandas Gandhi, even calling him "Mickey Mouse".
On August 15, 1947, with the independence of India, Naidu became the Governor of Uttar Pradesh, India's first woman governor and she died in office in 1949. Sarojini Naidu is also well acclaimed for her poetry which includes the “Golden Threshold,” “The Bird of Time”, “The Broken Wings”. “The Magic Tree”, “The Wizard Mask”, and “A Treasury of Poems.” Sarojini Naidu writes: "When there is oppression, the only self-respecting thing is to rise and say this shall cease today, because my right is justice." Naidu adds, "If you are stronger, you have to help the weaker boy or girl both in play and in the work."