Jinadasa Vijayatunga

Other names: 

Jinadasa Vijaya-Tunga

Jinnadasa Vijaya-Tunga

Jinadasa Vijayatunge

Date of birth: 
01 Jan 1902
Precise DOB unknown: 
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Current name country of birth: 
Sri Lanka
Date of 1st arrival in Britain: 
01 Jan 1931
Precise 1st arrival date unknown: 
Dates of time spent in Britain: 

ca. 1931-48




Author, teacher and journalist Jinadasa Vijayatunga grew up in the village of Urala before attending a boarding school in Galle in Southern Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). His Sinhalese-speaking parents employed a tutor to teach him English. He began his career as a teacher and journalist in Sri Lanka. He then taught in Tagore’s school in Bengal, and then as an examiner in Sinhalese for Calcutta University, 1927-8. He taught in New York from 1928 to 1931 before he went to London as a journalist. He lived most of his adult life abroad in America, England and India, before returning to Sri Lanka towards the end of his life.

Vijayatunga’s fiction published in London focuses on Sri Lanka. Grass for My Feet (1935) provides a series of vignettes of village life in Sri Lanka. It is based on Vijayatunga’s childhood memories growing up in a small remote village in Sri Lanka at the turn of the century. His book Island Story (1949) is a more factual account. It purports to convey an intimate knowledge of the island in terms of its people, history, culture and geographical layout. His choice of topics – Green Field and Valleys, The Gift of Water, Tea Gardens, Island Neighbours, Kings and Heroes of Old, Kandy the Lake City – suggests a desire to represent both Ceylon’s ancient traditions and present-day life. Published in the year after Ceylon gained independence, the book illuminates the newly independent country to the rest of the world. Both books were well-received in both Britain and Sri Lanka. They were hailed as great literary achievements and unique introductions of the island. Sri Lankan and Indian publishers have recently re-published these two works.

Published works: 

Grass for my Feet: Sketches of Life in a Ceylon Village (London: Arnold & Co, 1935)

Maharanee and Other Stories (Colombo: Gunasena & Co, 1947)

Trebizond: A Second Book of Poems (Colombo: M.D. Gunasena &Co. 1948)

What I Think (Colombo: Gunasena & Co, 1948)

The Glass Princess, and Other Singhala Folk Tales (Illustrations by Sita Vijayatunga) (Colombo: M. D. Gunasena & Co., 1949)

Yoga: The way of Self-Fulfilment, etc., (London/Bombay: Casement Publication 1953)

Isle of Lanka, Ceylon. (Bombay: Orient Longmans, 1955)

Lumbini to Kusinara - In the Footsteps of the Buddha (Maharagama: Saman Press, 1960)

Rodiya Girl and Other Stories (Maharagama: Saman Press, 1960)

The Sun Temple of Konarka (Delhi: Publications Division, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, 1963)

Archive source: 

National Archives, Colombo, Sri Lanka