Google Doodle is known for keeping a track of the anniversaries and landmark events in history. So much so that people actually look forward to seeing what the next Google Doodle would be on. And people did not have to wait much this time. A day after celebrating the 131st anniversary of the humble stationery invention, the hole puncher, Google is back with a new doodle. This time, the doodle celebrates the 151st birth anniversary of Cornelia Sorabji, who was India’s first female advocate. The doodle has been created by Jasjyot Singh Hans and shows Cornelia in front of the high court, to which she was eventually admitted. Google stated that this doodle was created to pay a tribute to Cornelia’s “persistence in the face of great adversity.”
Born in Nashik, Maharashtra in 1886, Cornelia has several firsts to her credit. She was not only the first female graduate of Bombay University but also the first woman to read law at Oxford University in 1892. In fact, she was the first Indian national to study at any British University. She was also India’s first female advocate and the first woman to practice law in India and Britain. Cornelia credits her father, Reverend Sorabji Karsedji, to be a key figure in convincing Bombay University to admit women to their degree programs. Her mother Francina Ford, on the other hand, helped in setting up several girls school in Poona (now called Pune).
After a few years of social and advisory work, Cornelia began petitioning to the India Office to provide for a female legal advisor to represent women and minors in provincial courts. In 1904, she was appointed as the Lady Assistant to the Court of Wards of Bengal. Over the next 20 years, Cornelia is reported to have helped over 600 women and orphans fight legal battles, sometimes free of charge. Her efforts bore fruit in 1924 when the legal profession was opened to women in India. She retired from the high court in 1929 and settled in London. Among Cornelia’s talents was also a passion for writing. She has written several short stories, articles and has penned her autobiography, ‘Between the Twilights’. The trend-setter barrister died at her London home on July 6, 1954.