|Born||Dominic Francis Moraes|
19 July 1938
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
|Died||2 June 2004 (aged 65)|
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
|Occupation||Poet, novelist, columnist, director|
|Education||Jesus College, Oxford|
|Notable works||A Beginning (1958)|
John Nobody (1965)
My Son's Father (1968)
|Notable awards||Hawthornden Prize (1958)|
Sahitya Akademi Award for English (1994)
|Spouse||Henrietta Moraes (m. 1961)|
Leela Naidu (1969–1992; separated)
|Relatives||Frank Moraes (father)|
Beryl Moraes (mother)
Teresa Albuquerque (aunt)
Dominic Francis Moraes (19 July 1938 – 2 June 2004) was an Indian writer and poet who published nearly 30 books in English. He is widely seen as a foundational figure in Indian English literature. His poems are a meaningful and substantial contribution to Indian and World literature.
Dom Moraes was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) to Beryl and Frank Moraes, former editor of The Times of India and later The Indian Express. He had a tormented relationship with his mother Beryl, who had been confined to a mental asylum since his childhood. His aunt was the historian Teresa Albuquerque. He attended the city's St. Mary's School, and then left for England to enrol at Jesus College, Oxford.
Moraes spent eight years in Britain (in London and Oxford), New York City, Hong Kong, Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai).
David Archer published Moraes' first collection of poems, A Beginning, in 1957. When he was 19, still an undergraduate, he became the first Indian to win the Hawthornden Prize and was presented with £100 and a silver medal by Lord David Cecil at the Arts Council of Britain on 10 July 1958.
He edited magazines in London, Hong Kong and New York. He became the editor of The Asia Magazine in 1971. He scripted and partially directed over 20 television documentaries for the BBC and ITV. He was a war correspondent in Algeria, Israel and Vietnam. In 1976 he joined the United Nations.
Moraes conducted one of the first interviews of the Dalai Lama after the Tibetan spiritual leader fled to India in 1959. The Dalai Lama was then 23 and Moraes, 20.
He had a lifelong battle with alcoholism. Moraes suffered from cancer, but refused treatment and died from a heart attack in Bandra, Mumbai. He was buried in the city's Sewri Cemetery. Many of Dom's old friends and publishers attended the memorial service in Odcombe. A headstone in yellow Jaisalmer stone lies embedded in the front lawn of the Church of St Peter and St Paul to mark the service.
In 1961–62 he was one of the very few public Indian figures to strongly criticize the Indian Army takeover of Goa, land of his forefathers – Daman and Diu from Portuguese India. He tore up his Indian passport on TV in protest. He was later allowed back in the country.
When the Gujarat riots erupted in 2002, with their heavy toll of Muslim dead, Moraes left for Ahmedabad the minute the news came through, saying that since he was a Catholic, Muslims would not see him as an enemy. Even though he was physically in considerable pain by then, he was one of the first on the scene.
Moraes ended his writing career, writing books in collaboration with Sarayu Srivatsa.
In 1956, aged 18, he was courted by Audrey Wendy Abbott who later changed her name to Henrietta. They married in 1961. He left her, according to his close friends in London, but did not divorce her. He had a son, Francis Moraes, with his second wife Judith, whom he divorced, and returned to India in 1968. In 1969, he married the Indian actress Leela Naidu. They were treated as a star couple, and known across the world for over two decades. Their marriage ended in a separation. For the last 13 years of his life he lived with Sarayu Srivatsa, with whom he co-authored two books.