Kamala Das is pseudonym, and her real name is Madhavi Kutty. She was born on the 31st March, 1934 at Punnayarkulam in the coastal region of Malabar in the state of Kerala. She received her education largely at home and she came of a very orthodox and conservative family. Ironically her poetry is most unorthodox and almost revolutionary as compared to the environment and atmosphere in which she grew up.
She was married at the early age of fifteen, but her marriage proved an absolute failure. It was the failure of her marriage that compelled her to enter into extra-marital sexual relationship in search of the kind of love which her husband had failed to give her. She believed in marriage as an emotional and spiritual bond; and her husband’s coldness in this respect led her to feel acutely dissatisfied and discontented in life. Her poetry is generally called confessional poetry because it is a record of her personal experiences, chiefly in the sphere of marriage and sex, though it certainly has a range and includes a few other aspects of her life too.
Kamala Das’s poetic output is contained in four volumes of poems which include Summer in Calcutta, The Descendants, The Old Playhouse and Other poems, and Stranger Time. She has written her autobiography to which she gave the title My Story. Although she has distinguished herself as an Indo-Anglian poet, showing an extraordinary command over the English language, she has also achieved eminence as a writer of short stories in her mother tongue (namely Malayalam) for which the Kerala Sahitya Akademi honoured her with an award in 1969.
Kamala Das has written a number of miscellaneous essays which, like her poems, have made her a controversial figure because of the views which she has expressed in them. Some of these essays bear the following titles: I Studied All Men; What women Expect out of Marriage and What They Get”; “Why Not More than One Husband”? and “I Have Lived Beautifully”.
Kamala Das had long been settled in the city of Bombay. She had three grown-up children. She died on 31 May 2009 in Pune at the age of 75.