Moraes, Dom(inic Frank) 1938-2004
MORAES, Dom(inic Frank) 1938-2004
See index for CA sketch: Born July 19, 1938, in Bombay, India; died of a heart attack June 2, 2004, in Bombay, India. Journalist, editor, and author. Moraes was an acclaimed poet, as well as an accomplished journalist. The son of a lawyer educated at Oxford University and a mother who was one of the first women in India to become a doctor, he had a distinctly English education. Though his early life was spent in Bombay, he never learned to speak Hindi, and his writings are all published in English. Having written poetry from the age of twelve, Moraes was an accomplished poet by the time he was in college. He burst onto the literary scene with the 1957 collection A Beginning, which won what was then the first Hawthornden Prize to be presented in fourteen years, and the first to be given to a writer outside of Great Britain. Graduating from Jesus College, Oxford, in 1959, he went home to India, where he began pursuing an interest in journalism and had the extraordinary opportunity to interview the Dalai Lama. His next collection, Poems (1960), was a Poetry Book Society choice, but by his third book of verse, John Nobody (1965), critics and readers began to think Moraes had lost his creative edge. Moraes himself seemed to struggle with writing verse, and after 1966's Bedlam Etcetera he did not release another poetry collection for seventeen years. In the meantime, he found success as a journalist, reporting for the New York Times Sunday Magazine from 1968 to 1971, as a scriptwriter and director of over twenty television documentaries for British networks BBC and ITV, and as an editor of magazines, including as managing editor of Asia magazine from 1971 to 1973. Moraes also served as chief literary consultant to the United Nations Fund for Populations from 1973 to 1977. He was publishing nonfiction books during this period, such as My Son's Father: An Autobiography (1968), The Tempest Within: An Account of East Pakistan (1971), and the biography Mrs. Gandhi (1980). Moraes returned to poetry with Absences (1983), and regained critical acclaim with his Collected Poems 1957-1987 (1987). Though his last years were plagued by cancer, he still managed to produce a number of books, including the poetry collection Cinnamon Shade (2001), The Penguin Book of Indian Journeys (2001), which he edited with Sarayu Srivatsa, The Long Strider: How Thomas Coryate Walked from England to India in the Year 1613 (2003), and A Variety of Absences (2003), which is an omnibus volume of three earlier autobiographical works. For his contributions to journalism, Moraes received an Overseas Press citation in 1972, and in 1994 he was presented with the Central Literacy Academy of India award for English.
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Contemporary Poets, seventh edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Daily Telegraph (London, England), June 4, 2004.
Guardian (London, England), June 4, 2004, p. 27.
Independent (London, England), June 5, 2004, p. 44.
Los Angeles Times, June 6, 2004, p. B14.
Times (London, England), June 4, 2004, p. 42.