Nirmal Chandra Kumar-Bohemian bookseller and champion of arts

Nirmal Chandra Kumar, who died of cerebral stroke in 1978, aged 60, was a man who was an antiquarian and owned a rare bookshop. He was also among the greatest influences on a generation of artists, from filmmaker to fiction writers, folk musician to folk artist; actors to activists, writer to wanderer; teachers to travellers -more so perhaps than any art critic or editor of his times.

For 30 years, Kumar, a stocky Bengali, presided over his own collection of
rare books, prints, maps, manuscripts and other materials in his own bookshop opposite a Protestant Church, in a place near Entally, in Calcutta. A place also famous, for the birth of the Communist Party Of India, Mother Teresa’s Nirmal Hriday (Young Heart) and birth of the Revolutionary Communist Party, Naxalbari.
The bookshop from its opening in 1945, until the death of Kumar in 1978 was Calcutta’s pre-eminent rare bookstore. Whether you wanted books on art, travel, ornithology, botany, history, literature, mountaineering, mutiny, religion; KUMARS was the place to go. Under Kumar’s care, its Art and Indology section was its greatest strength, and the tradition of bohemian bookselling was carried forward into the 1950s and 1960s.

Images : Bookplate . Potrait of Nirmal Chandra Kumar . The house of Kumars .