Born to an orthodox Brahmin family, Chattopadhyay was educated at Hooghly Mohsin College founded by Bengali philanthropist Muhammad Mohsin and Presidency College, Calcutta. He was one of the first graduates of the University of Calcutta. From 1858, until his retirement in 1891, he served as a deputy magistrate and deputy collector in the Government of British India.
Chattopadhyay is widely regarded as a key figure in literary renaissance of Bengal as well as the broader Indian subcontinent. Some of his writings, including novels, essays and commentaries, were a breakaway from traditional verse-oriented Indian writings, and provided an inspiration for authors across India.
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