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By L.N.D. Anuruddha KUMARA

Rajiva Wijesinha is recognized as one of the best post- colonial Sri Lankan writers in English, distinguished for his political analysis as well as creative and critical work.

He has been an academic by profession for much of his working career; he was a Senior Professor of Languages at the University of Sabaragamuwa of Sri Lanka when I started university there to read my undergraduate in English literature in 1997 and it is there that I met him for the first time. Since then he has stood out as one of the major influential writers today with an elegant style of writing, producing a unique selection of literary genres within a short period of time.

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha in Syria

Given his success, I felt it worthwhile to research how his education has influenced him to achieve such literary milestones during his life. First, I will study his educational ladder and see how he ended up at University College Oxford, one of the most prestigious universities in England.

I will then discuss his work as well as his experiences as a writer and finally we will see how his content of education has contributed to distinguishing him as a talented writer both locally and internationally.


Rajiva was born to a Sri Lankan aristocratic family on May 16, 1954 and schooled at S.t Thomas’ College, Mt.Lavinia,Colombo. It is necessary to understand two important questions here, firstly; how did he gained admission to the best private English Christian school at the time? Even though school started during the British period, admission was highly restricted to the Christian upper English speaking elite class even in 1960s.

So Rajiva got into this school because his family members of the upper English speaking social class, where not only his father but also most of his other relations were old boys of this college and had brought fame to the school in different ways. His father was a senior administrative officer, while his mother was also an educated Christian, therefore he easily got into this school and his affluent parents were able to look after him. The second important question is how did this school help him to get into Oxford? For this, his systematic education at school, his habit of reading, as he says, ‘I read extensively from my childhood on’ and his family background have immensely contributed to his academic intelligence and winning an Open Exhibition in Classics to University College, Oxford when he was just 16.

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Rajiva Wijesinha

May 2012
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