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.
Sir Christopher Ondaatje was born in Sri Lanka, educated in England and built a highly successful career in finance and publishing in Canada. In 1988 he sold all his business interests and has since then devoted his time to literature, philanthropy and travel.
About the Artist * Acknowledgments * Introduction by Michael Holroyd * Prologue: SeducedbytheWrittenWord-MikeWhite'sImperialJazzBand-A ChristmasCrisis * Olympic Victory * `Suicide' Birds * The Man-Eater of Punanai * The Gardens of Taprobane * Murder in Ceylon * Chandrasena's Revenge * A Tea Planter's Story * The Devil Bird * A White Crow * The Human Leopard Society * Leopard in the Afternoon * The Semliki Leopard * The Riddle of Lewa Downs * Kilimanjaro: Hemingway in Africa * Bewitched by the Syrian Desert * Blood Libel: Richard Burton and Human Sacrifice * The Rise and Fall of Nathaniel Naismith * The Killing of Sir Harry Oakes * Sargent's Ashes * Flying with Superman * Grand Slam * The Blue Nude * Meisner's Island * The Glenthorne Cat