Dom Moraes
Dom Moraes.jpg
BornDominic Francis Moraes
(1938-07-19)19 July 1938
Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India
Died2 June 2004(2004-06-02) (aged 65)
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
OccupationPoet, novelist, columnist, director
EducationJesus College, Oxford
Notable worksA Beginning (1958)
Poems (1960)
John Nobody (1965)
My Son's Father (1968)
Serendip (1990)
Notable awardsHawthornden Prize (1958)
Sahitya Akademi Award for English (1994)
SpouseHenrietta Moraes (m. 1961)
Judith Moraes
Leela Naidu (1969–1992; separated)
PartnerSarayu Srivatsa[1]
ChildrenFrancis Moraes[1]
RelativesFrank Moraes (father)
Beryl Moraes (mother)
Teresa Albuquerque (aunt)

Dominic Francis Moraes (19 July 1938 – 2 June 2004)[2] 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.[3][4]

Early life

Dom Moraes[5] 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.[6] His aunt was the historian Teresa Albuquerque.[7] He attended the city's St. Mary's School, and then left for England to enrol at Jesus College, Oxford.[8]

Moraes spent eight years in Britain (in London and Oxford), New York City, Hong Kong, Delhi and Bombay (now Mumbai).[9]


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.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

Later life

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.[13] 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.[citation needed]

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.[14] He was later allowed back in the country.[15]

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.[16]

Memorial to Dom Moraes
Memorial to Dom Moraes

Moraes ended his writing career, writing books in collaboration with Sarayu Srivatsa.[17][18]

Personal life

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.[citation needed] 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.[19] For the last 13 years of his life he lived with Sarayu Srivatsa, with whom he co-authored two books.[1]


Awards and recognitions

Appearances in poetry anthologies


See also


  1. ^ a b c Brownjohn, Alan (4 June 2004). "Obituary: Dom Moraes". The Guardian. London.
  2. ^ "Encyclopaedia Britannica , Dom Moraes". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Everyone knows of Dom Moraes, but many more readers should know his poetry". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Dom Moraes". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Dom Moraes". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  6. ^ "The Poet Who Remained a Boy - Dom Moraes Early Life". The Hindu. 13 July 2013.
  7. ^ Noronha, Frederick (12 June 2017). "Teresa Albuquerque, Historian of Colonial Bombay and the Goan Diaspora, is No More". The Wire. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Dom Moraes". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  9. ^ Doherty, Francis (1963). "Poetic Parable: A Note on the Poetry of Dom Moraes". Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review. 52 (206): 205–211. JSTOR 30088567.
  10. ^ "Hawthornden prize". The Hindu. 12 July 1958. Retrieved 7 July 2018.
  11. ^ "Dom Moraes". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  12. ^ "A Requiem To Domsky". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  13. ^ Singh, Khushwant (13 October 2007). "Requiem to Dom Moraes". The Tribune.
  14. ^ "SAHGAL'S PROTEST STEMS FROM HATRED FOR MODI". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  15. ^ "Return of Stranger Dom Moraes". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Brilliant young writer, whose star, lauded by bohemian London, dimmed in later life". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  17. ^ "The stranger who found belonging at last". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  18. ^ Bhattacharjee, Sankarlal (2004). "Death and Departure: Meeting Dom Moraes". Indian Literature. 48 (4 (222)): 7–15. JSTOR 23341511.
  19. ^ "Leela Naidu personified grace and beauty". The Times of India. 29 July 2009.
  20. ^ James D. Coldham, "Book Reviews", The Cricketer, 31 May 1952, p. 181.
  21. ^ "Sarayu Srivatsa on Dom Moraes and their Travelogue Out of God's Oven". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  22. ^ "Never at Home: A breathless account of Dom Moraes' globe-trotting days". Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  23. ^ "Dom Moraes ( Selected Poems )". Retrieved 3 September 2018.
  24. ^ "The Oxford India Anthology of Twelve Modern Indian Poets". Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  25. ^ "Book review: 'Twelve Modern Indian Poets' by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra". Retrieved 23 August 2018.