Growing up in post-Independence Calcutta in the 1950s in a colonial-era mansion full of old-world charm, the author and her siblings enjoyed an unusual childhood. The eldest daughter of late Dilip Kumar Gupta (DK) and granddaughter of late Nilima Devi, who jointly started Signet Press in 1943, she witnessed its brilliant success and many eventful happenings at 10/2 Elgin Road in central Calcutta. Authors and poets dropped by at all hours. Artists, including the young Satyajit Ray, sat in the downstairs office room and designed covers for forthcoming publications.
The children heard stories of how Jawaharlal Nehru, just out of Ahmadnagar prison, had raced up the stairs to look at the galley proofs of Discovery of India, then being readied for publication in 1946.
There were also weekly Saturday rehearsals by theatre group ‘Horbola’, poetry readings and singing, and plays put up for the public on a stage on the lawn.
But this charmed life did not last forever and things took a different turn from the 1960s onwards. The author has spoken of the ups and downs she went through, till she found a measure of equilibrium later in life.
Signet Press was acquired by Ananda Publishers in 2010.