Ramanujan was born in Erode, a small village in Tamil
Nadu on 22 December 1887. When he was a year old his family moved to
the town
of Kumbakonam, where his father worked as a clerk in a cloth merchant’s
shop.
When he was nearly five years old, Ramanujan enrolled in the primary
school. In
1898 he joined the Town High School in Kumbakonam. At the Town High
School,
Ramanujan did well in all subjects and proved himself an able all round scholar. It was here that he
came across
the book *Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure Mathematics *by
G.
S. Carr. Influenced by the book, he began working
on mathematics on his own, summing geometric and arithmetic series.

He was
given a scholarship to the Government College in Kumbakonam. However
his
scholarship was not renewed because Ramanujan neglected all subjects
other than
mathematics. In 1905 he appeared for the First Arts examination which
would
have allowed him to be admitted to the University of Madras. Again he
failed in
all subjects other than mathematics, a performance he repeated in 1906
and 1907
too. In the following years he worked on mathematics, with only Carr’s
book as
a guide, noting his results in what would become the famous *Notebooks.*

He got married in 1909
and
started looking for a job. His search took him to many influential
people,
among them Ramachandra Rao, one of the founding members of the Indian
Mathematical Society. For a year he was supported by Ramachandra Rao
who gave
him Rs. 25 per month. He started posing
and
solving problems in the Journal of the Indian Mathematical Society. His
research paper on Bernoulli numbers, in 1911, brought him recognition
and he
became well known in Chennai as a mathematical genius. In 1912, with
Ramachandra Rao’s help, he secured the post of clerk in the accounts
section of
the Madras Port Trust. He continued to pursue mathematics and in 1913
he wrote
to G. H. Hardy in Cambridge, enclosing a long list of his own theorems.
Hardy
immediately recognized Ramanujan’s mathematical ability. On the basis
of
Hardy’s letters, Ramanujan was given a scholarship by the University of Madras in 1913. In 1914,
Hardy
arranged for him to go to Trinity College, Cambridge.

Ramanujan’s work with
Hardy
produced important results right from the
beginning. In 1916 Ramanujan graduated from Cambridge with a Bachelor of
Science by Research. In 1918, he was elected a Fellow of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the
Royal Society
of London, and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, all in
the same
year! However, from 1917 onwards he was seriously ill and mostly
bedridden. In
1919 he returned to India, in very poor health.