Varma (1907-1987) was a distinguished poet,
writer and social reformer who dominated the
Hindi literary world for much of the twentieth
century. She was one of the founders of
a school of
Hindi poetry that broke from traditional
formalism and relied on symbolism to illuminate
the agony and ecstasy of the human heart.
Sketches from My Past: Encounters with India's
(Kali for Women, 1999), a dramatically powerful
collection of real-life portraits of oppressed women
and underprivileged members of Indian society, Varma
weaves her memoirs around other people's lives rather
than her own.