Martin Wickramasinghe
Martin Wickramasinghe,  The Great Author of Nation
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Life story


Song in homage


Martin Wickramasinghe was born on the 29th of May in the year 1890 in the Southern village of Koggala, bounded on one side by the reef – fringed sea, and on the other by the large lake into which the numerous tributaries of the Koggala Oya drain. The landscapes of the sea, lake studded with little islands, the flora and fauna, the forested hinterland, and the changing patterns of life and culture of the people of the village were the background of his early years, that Martin Wickramasinghe later immortalized in his novels and short stories and autobiographical writings.

From the beginning

From the Beginning
(An autobiography)

The search for roots is the central theme in Martin Wickramasinghe’s writings on the culture and life of the people of Sri Lanka. He imaginatively explored and applied modern knowledge in natural and social sciences, literature, linguistics, the arts, philosophy, education, and Buddhism and comparative religion to reach beyond the superficial emotionalism of vulgar nationalism, and guide us to the enduring roots of our common national identity that exists in the folk life and folk culture of Sri Lanka..

Martin Wickramasinghe’s vision was primarily nurtured in the tolerant, humane, realistic attitude to life traditional to Buddhist folk culture. He valued the intellectual freedom and independence inspired by the Buddha’s ‘Kalama Sutta’ which he saw as a tradition to question tradition, not unlike the Western scientific attitude. Through his writings he consistently opposed dogmatism, casuistry, elitism and oppression in any form, be it cultural, religious, political or social.

In a haapy mood with his wife

In a happy mood with his wife.

Martin Wickramasinghe died on the 23rd of July 1976. His works have been translated and published in English, Hindi, Tamil, Russian, Chinese, Romanian, Dutch, German, French and Japanese languages.

Landmark Events in Martin Wickramasinghe's Life.


Birth on the 29th of May, the only son of Lamahewage Don Bastian Wickramasinghe and Magalle Balapitiya Liyanage Thochchohamy.
1895 - Learns the letters of the Sinhala Alphabet from Andiris Gurunanse.
1897 - Goes to the village temple for traditional instructions.


Starts to explore the marine life of the Koggala Reef situated about a quarter mile from his home.
1900 - Goes to the Buonavista School in Galle to start his formal education.
1901 - Death of his father Don Bastian Wickramasinghe.
1902 - Leaves Buonavista School due to financial hardships. Writes
    "Balopadeshaya" (Advice to Children) under the tutelage of the monk
Koggala Deerananda Thero. (Martin Wickramasinghe has said that he was
coerced into writing this book, being a ruse of his mother and
Rev.Deerananda to discipline him).

1904 - Goes to the Sinhala medium School in Ahangama.
1906 - Leaves school at the age of 16 to work as book-keeper in Carolis
    Silva's shop in Colombo.
1907 - Leaves Carolis Silva and joins a commissions agency run by John Silva.
1910 - Death of his mother, Magalle Blapitiya Liyanage Thochchohamy.
1914 - Publishes his first novel Leela. John Silva's agency is closed in the
    aftermath of the Sinhala-Muslim riots and Martin Wickramasinghe
    returns to Koggala.
1915 - Becomes book-keeper in Cornelis Silva's shop in Batticaloa.
1916 - Starts to write to the Sinhala Daily "Dinamina" under the pen name
    "Hethu Vaadi" (Rationalist). Writes a controversial series "Plants and
1920 - Joins the Editorial Staff of "Dinamina" the Sinhala national daily.
1925 - Marries Kataluwe Balage Prema de Silva on the 30th of November.
1926 - Takes residence in Mt.Lavinia. Susantha Manuwarna the first-born child
    dies 3 months after birth.
1927 - Leaves "Dinamina" and joins "Lakmina".
1928 - Birth of son Sarath Kusum on 26th of December.
1929 - Birth of son Vasantha Kumara on 16th of July.
1931 - Birth of daughter Rupa Malathie on 4th February.
    Becomes Editor of ;the "Silumina" the Sunday weekly national news
1932 - Birth of son Himansu Ranga on 16th July. Appointed Editor of
    "Dinamina" the Sinhala national daily.
1935 - Birth of daughter Usha on September 20th.
1939 - Built a house in Samudrasanna Road in Mt.Lavinia and takes
    residence in it.
1940 - Birth of daughter Unie on 13th September.
1941 - Take over of Koggala and adjoining villages by the Colonial Government
    for an military air base.
1946 - Resigns from the post of Editor of "Dinamina".
1950 - Sells house in Mt.Lavinia and takes up residence in Thimbirigasyaya
    to enable children to go to the university.
1953 - Awarded the MBE. by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in person.
    Appointed member of the Radio Broadcasting Commission.
1954 - Appointed to the National Languages Commission, Committee for
    making a glossary of scientific terms. Resigned from the Commission
    after 3 months.
1956 - Takes up residence in Bandarawela. Wins the award for the best news
    paper article for the year "The fall of the Brahmin Class".
1957 - A visit to Southern India to study archaeological artifacts. His novel
    "Viragaya" wins the Don Pedric Award for the best novel of the year
    He gives the award money to create a scholarship fund for
    enabling a student from Karandeniya to obtain a university education.
1958 - Visits the Soviet Union with his wife on the invitation of the
    Soviet Writers Union.
1959 - Tours many parts of China with his eldest daughter on the invitation of
    the Chinese Government, for the 10th Anniversary Celebrations of Peoples
1960 - Awarded the Honorary Ph.D by the Vidyodaya University.
    ( Sri Jayawardenepura University).
1961 - Participates in the centenary commemorative celebration of Rabindranath
    Tagore on the invitation of the Indian Government.
1962 - Handing over of his birth place in Koggala with the house where he was
    born by the Government of Sri Lanka. Takes up residence in Nawala,
1963 - Visits Moscow and London. Awarded the D Lit by the University of
1964 - Given the UNESCO Award for his book "The Rise of the Soviet Land".
    Visits Havana, Cuba with his wife at the invitation of the Writer Congress of
    Cuba. Visits London and Paris on the return journey. Production of the
    film of "Gamperaliya" by Lester James Peiris. The film wins the
    "Golden Peacock" Award. at the International Film Festival in New Delhi.
    Awarded the D.Lit. by Vidyalankara University (Kelaniya University).
1968 - Visit to Cuba on the invitation of the Cuban Government
1970 - Celebrations to commemorate his 80th Birthday organized by the Sri Lanka
    Writers Congress in Koggala and in many parts of the island. Awarded the
    D.Lit by the University of Colombo.
1972 - Visits Sanchi, Buddhagaya,Gijjakuta, Nalanda and other regions
    where the Buddha trod as a guest of the Indian Government.
1974 - Receives the first Presidential Award for Literature.He donates the award
    money to the Minister of Cultural Affairs to initiate a scholarship to benefit a
    University student.
1975 - Publishes "Bhava Tharanaya", a novel depicting the life and times of Prince
1976 - Publishes a collection of essays Manawa Vidyawa ha Sinhala Sanskruthiya (Sinhalese Culture : Anthropological Perceptions)
    Prepares two other books for publication. ( These were published posthumously by the M W Trust )

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