An autobiography in essays that conjures up a truly unique portrait of a world that is fast disappearing. Christopher Ondaatje is a true child of the British Empire. Born in Ceylon in 1933 and brought up on a tea plantation, he was sent as a teenager to boarding school in England. But soon after Ceylon was granted its independence in 1948, his family found themselves destitute, and the young Ondaatje left school and got a job. From these beginnings there forllowed a series of commercial triumphs until 1988 when he abruptly abandoned high finance at the peak of his career and reinvented himself as an explorer and an author, focusing mainly on the colonial period. It is the curious encounters behind these often precarious adventures that make up this book. The stories tell of Ondaatje's childhood days, his early life in Canada, his fascination with inexplicable events and local superstitions, and sometimes perilous travels researching his acclaimed biographies. Illustrated throughout with original images by Ana Maria Pacheco, The Last Colonial lives up to the romance of its tantalizing title.
Christopher Ondaatje was born in Ceylon, educated in England, and emigrated to Canada in 1956. He has worked at several magazines and newspapers and in 1967 founded Pagurian Press, which eventually became the enormously successful Pagurian Corporation. In 1988 he sold all his business interests and returned to the literary world.
He is the author of eleven books, including the best-selling Burton biographies Sindh Revisited and Journey to the Source of the Nile; and more recently Hemingway in Africa, Woolf in Ceylon and The Last Colonial. His latest book Love Duet and Other Curious Stories About Music is released in October.
He was a member of Canada's 1964 Olympic Bob-Sled Team, is a fellow of The Royal Geographical Society and an Honorary Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature. He lives in London, England and was knighted by the Queen in 2003.