Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (18 April 1809 – 26 December 1831) was an Anglo-Indian poet and assistant headmaster of Hindu College, Kolkata. He was a radical thinker of his time and one of the first Indian educators to disseminate Western learning and science among the young men of Bengal.
He was born on 18th April 1809 at Entally-Padmapukur in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India. He belonged to the Anglo-Indian community of India and his father, Francis Derozio, was a Christian Indo-Portuguese while his mother, Sophia Johnson Derozio, was English. His father served in J Scott and company in Calcutta, with his own house property and was also able to educate his children in private schools. Derozio attended David Drummond’s Dharmatala Academy from age 6 to 14. Derozio's later religious skepticism is sometimes attributed to David Drummond, who was known as a freethinker.
In May 1826, at age 17, he was appointed teacher in English literature and history at the new Hindu College. Derozio's intense zeal for teaching and his interactions with students created a sensation at Hindu College. He organized debates where ideas and social norms were freely debated. He constantly encouraged them to think freely, to question, and not to accept anything blindly. His teachings inspired the development of the spirit of liberty, equality, and freedom. They also tried to remove social evils, improve the condition of women and peasants, and promote liberty through freedom of the press, trial by jury, and so on. His activities contributed to the intellectual revolution in Bengal. It was called the Young Bengal Movement and his students, also known as Derozians, were fiery patriots.
In the spirit of English rationalism, Derozio criticized the social practices and religious beliefs of orthodox Hinduism. Accused of irreverence by his students’ orthodox Hindu parents, he was forced to resign by the directors of Hindu College in 1831.
In 1827, his first book titled ‘Poems’ was published. In 1828, one of his most famous books and his second volume of English poetry, ‘The Fakeer of Jungheera: A Metrical Tale and Other Poems,’ was published. In 1907, his third book was posthumously published as ‘The Poetical Works of Henry Louis Vivian Derozio’.
Derozio died of cholera at age 22 on 26 December 1831 in Calcutta. His body was buried in South Park Street Cemetery.