Suniti Namjoshi was born in Mumbai, India, in 1941. Her father, Captain Manohar Vinayak Namjoshi, was a senior test pilot and was killed when his plane crashed in 1953. Her mother, Sarojini, nee Naik Nimbalkar, comes from the old princely state of Phaltan in Maharashtra, India. As a child Namjoshi was sent to boarding schools, first Woodstock School in the north and then Rishi Valley School in the south.
Namjoshi obtained her BA (1961) and MA (1963), both in English Literature, from the University of Pune. She lectured at Fergusson College, Pune, for a year and then was selected for the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1964. It was after she joined the IAS that Namjoshi took up writing verse. Namjoshi’s first book of poems, ‘Poems’ was published by P. Lal of Writers Workshop, Calcutta in 1967.
During this period she translated some poems from old Marathi into English with the help of her grandmother, Laxmi Devi Naik Nimbalkar, as well as some poems from more recent Marathi poetry with the help of her mother, Sarojini Namjoshi. The latter were published as ‘Poems of Govindagraj’ (Calcutta: Writers Workshop, 1968).
In 1968, Namjoshi took study leave from the Govt. of India, and undertook a Master’s degree in Public Administration at the University of Missouri in America. In her book ‘Because of India’, Namjoshi writes about her great sense of displacement and loneliness in America: ‘…In India I was inescapably my grandfather’s granddaughter…but now I was literally ‘Nobody from Nowhere’ – and I didn’t like it’.